Legislature(2007 - 2008)

05/15/2007 11:19 AM FIN


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11:19:00 AM Start
11:19:43 AM SR7
11:31:24 AM HB184
11:43:54 AM SR7
11:48:54 AM HB244
11:54:39 AM Alaska Marine Highway System Review and Approval
12:02:59 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                            MINUTES                                                                                           
                    SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                  
                          May 15, 2007                                                                                        
                           11:19 a.m.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Bert  Stedman  convened the  meeting  at  approximately                                                               
11:19:00 AM.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Lyman Hoffman, Co-Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Bert Stedman, Co-Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice-Chair                                                                                             
Senator Kim Elton                                                                                                               
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Senator Joe Thomas                                                                                                              
Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Also   Attending:  REPRESENTATIVE   BOB   ROSES;  WALT   MONEGAN,                                                             
Commissioner,  Department  of  Public  Safety;  DENICE  LICCIOLI,                                                               
Staff   to  Senator   Donny  Olson;   JOSH  APPLEBEE,   Staff  to                                                               
Representative  Bob Roses;  MILES  BAKER, Staff  to Senator  Bert                                                               
Stedman; KELLY HUBER, Staff to Representative Nancy Dahlstrom                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Attending  via Teleconference:  From  an  Offnet Location:  DUANE                                                             
BANNOCK,  Director, Division  of  Motor  Vehicles, Department  of                                                               
Administration                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SR 7-SENATE VPSO TASK FORCE                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
The  Committee  heard  from  the  resolution's  sponsor  and  the                                                               
Department of  Public Safety. A committee  substitute was adopted                                                               
and the resolution reported from Committee.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HB 184-MOTOR VEHICLES                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The Committee heard  from the bill's sponsor and  the Division of                                                               
Motor  Vehicles. A  committee substitute  and one  amendment were                                                               
adopted and the bill reported from Committee.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
HB 244-MEDAL OF HONOR                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The Committee  heard from the  bill's sponsor. The  bill reported                                                               
from Committee.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Alaska Marine Highway System Review and Approval                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The  Committee  elected  to  expend Committee  funds  to  hire  a                                                               
consultant to  advise them  on matters  pertaining to  the Alaska                                                               
Marine Highway System.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:19:43 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     SENATE RESOLUTION NO. 7                                                                                                    
     Creating and relating to the Senate VPSO Task Force.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This was  the first hearing for  this bill in the  Senate Finance                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DONNY OLSON,  the sponsor  of the  Resolution, moved  to                                                               
adopt  committee  substitute  Version  25-LS0856\C,  Cook,  dated                                                               
April 25, 2007, as the working document.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
There  being  no  objection, the  Version  25-LS0856\C  committee                                                               
substitute was ADOPTED as the working document.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
11:20:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson  informed  the   Committee  that  this  Resolution                                                               
addresses  an  issue of  importance  to  people living  in  Rural                                                               
Alaska,  that  being the  Village  Public  Safety Officer  (VPSO)                                                               
program. It is unfortunate that  the attention given this program                                                               
has diminished in  recent years as small  communities consider it                                                               
"their first line of defense".                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
11:21:43 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DENICE  LICCIOLI, Staff  to Senator  Donny Olson,  explained that                                                               
the  VPSO  Task  Force  this Resolution  would  create  would  be                                                               
charged with determining  what changes could be made  to the VPSO                                                               
program to "strengthen and improve  public safety in Rural areas"                                                               
of the State.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Liccioli stated  that the program's recent  inability to fill                                                               
vacancies  and recruit  and retain  qualified people  has further                                                               
reduced it effectiveness.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Liccioli  advised  that  the  Task  Force,  which  would  be                                                               
comprised of  three members  of the  Senate, the  Commissioner of                                                               
the Department  of Public  Safety or  their designee,  two public                                                               
members  appointed  by  the  Senate   President,  and  the  State                                                               
Attorney General  or their  designee, would  likely meet  no more                                                               
than six times or as directed by the Task Force chairperson.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Liccioli specified that Version  "C" added the State Attorney                                                               
General or their  designee to the Task Force. The  intent was for                                                               
the Task  Force to meet  over the Legislative Interim  and report                                                               
of  their findings  to the  Legislature at  the beginning  of the                                                               
Second Session of the 25th Legislative Session.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
11:23:53 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
WALT   MONEGAN,  Commissioner,   Department  of   Public  Safety,                                                               
announced that he was "in  complete agreement" with the intent of                                                               
this  Resolution.  The VPSO  program  is  "a foundational  public                                                               
safety issue that should be expanded" rather than diminished.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:24:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson asked  the Commissioner to speak to  how the energy                                                               
and optimism embodied in now-Governor  Sarah Palin's campaign for                                                               
office might affect the VPSO program.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:25:18 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner  Monegan stated  that while  the initial  concept of                                                               
the  VPSO program  was good,  the  program has  "been allowed  to                                                               
languish"  in recent  years. His  desire would  be that  the Task                                                               
Force  explore  avenues  through   which  the  program  could  be                                                               
sustained  and  broadened.  This  might include  such  things  as                                                               
"creating  a whole  new separate  category in  the Alaska  Police                                                               
Standards Council."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
11:26:15 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Thomas   noted  that   separate  legislation   has  been                                                               
introduced that addresses  some of the issues  VPSO officers must                                                               
deal with.  The point is  that the VPSO  program has had  to deal                                                               
with external as well as internal issues.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
11:27:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner Monegan considered the VPSO  program "a piece of the                                                               
puzzle."  An  enhanced VPSO  program  would  not be  the  "silver                                                               
bullet"   that  would   address   all  the   problems  in   Rural                                                               
communities,  but that  action would  have a  significant impact.                                                               
The  State  must take  a  "holistic"  approach in  utilizing  its                                                               
resources to address the problems in Rural Alaska.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:28:06 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There   being  no   further   Committee   discussion  or   public                                                               
commentary, Senator  Olson moved to report  committee substitute,                                                               
Version    25-LS0856\C,    from   Committee    with    individual                                                               
recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman  pointed out that  the lack of  any accompanying                                                               
fiscal note indicated that the Resolution had no fiscal impact.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
There  being  no  objection,  CS  SR  7(FIN)  was  REPORTED  from                                                               
Committee with individual recommendations.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 11:29:12 AM \ 11:30:19 AM                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman announced  that the Resolution would  be HELD in                                                               
Committee in  order to clarify  whether it should  be accompanied                                                               
by a fiscal note.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
[NOTE:  The  Resolution was  brought  back  before the  Committee                                                               
later in the hearing. See Timestamp 11:43:54 AM.]                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
11:30:41 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     SENATE CS FOR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 184(STA)                                                                               
     "An  Act relating  to a  commemorative troops  license plate                                                               
     and  to  license  plates  available  to  disabled  veterans;                                                               
     relating  to  mandatory  motor  vehicle  insurance,  license                                                               
     suspensions,  and notices  relating  to  motor vehicles  and                                                               
     driver's licenses; relating to registration of vehicles for                                                                
     disabled persons; relating to the anatomical gift awareness                                                                
     fund; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This was  the first hearing for  this bill in the  Senate Finance                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hoffman moved to adopt  committee substitute Version 25-                                                               
LS0621\V,  Luckhaupt,   dated  May  14,  2007,   as  the  working                                                               
document.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
There  being  no  objection,  committee  substitute  Version  25-                                                               
LS0621\V was ADOPTED as the working document.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:31:24 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BOB ROSES,  the bill's  sponsor, stated  that the                                                               
bill  would  establish  a  process  through  which  people  could                                                               
purchase commemorative  plates in honor  of those serving  in the                                                               
military. The money raised by  this endeavor would be utilized to                                                               
assist  military families  with such  things as  activities, rent                                                               
and other  necessities, and  education scholarships.  While, many                                                               
components of the bill have  changed during its committee hearing                                                               
process, an  amendment of particular  note was one  that expanded                                                               
the program  to include  families of  individuals serving  in the                                                               
Alaska National Guard.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:32:38 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JOSH APPLEBEE,  Staff to Representative  Bob Roses,  informed the                                                               
Committee  that  Version  "V"   refined  and  shortened  language                                                               
contained in previous versions of the bill.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Applebee  stated that several amendments  were adopted during                                                               
the  bill's committee  hearing process.  For example,  the Senate                                                               
State Affairs  Committee added language  to Section  1 subsection                                                               
(d) page  1 lines 7 through  10 to specify that  money donated to                                                               
the  organ  transplant  program   "may  be  appropriated  by  the                                                               
Legislature  to Life  Alaska, Inc."  The  intent of  specifically                                                               
naming Life  Alaska Inc.  in the  bill was  to clarify  where the                                                               
money donated to this program would be appropriated.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Applebee  continued. The House Veterans  and Military Affairs                                                               
Committee added language to Section  2 to allow disabled veterans                                                               
to continue getting their vehicle  license plates free of charge.                                                               
The amendment served to exempt  them from the federal requirement                                                               
that  the  international disability  symbol  be  depicted on  the                                                               
plate. "That's a  personal choice that I believe  we should offer                                                               
them."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:34:14 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Applebee   stated  that  language  in   Section  3  provided                                                               
specifics to  the design  and the  printing of  the commemorative                                                               
troops license plates proposed in this legislation.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Applebee  noted  that  the  House  Finance  Committee  added                                                               
language to  Section 4 subsection  (f) page  3 lines 1  through 8                                                               
which  would  allow   residents  over  the  age  of   65  with  a                                                               
demonstrated disability  to receive  their vehicle  license plate                                                               
free of charge.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Applebee stated that the  fee pertaining to the commemorative                                                               
troops license  plate is  detailed in  Section 5  page 3  lines 9                                                               
through 20 of the  bill. The $40 fee would be  in addition to the                                                               
regular  license plate  fee  and would  be  earmarked to  benefit                                                               
Alaska troops and their families.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Applebee noted  that Section  6, page  3 line  21, specifies                                                               
that the legislation would become effective July 1, 2007.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
11:35:19 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins asked for further  information about Life Alaska,                                                               
Inc.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
11:35:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Applebee  advised  that  Life   Alaska  Inc.  is  non-profit                                                               
organization   which   facilitates   the   data   management   of                                                               
individuals who sign up as organ  and tissue donors. Were such an                                                               
individual to die, Life Alaska  would determine which organs were                                                               
available and where they would need to be transported.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:36:07 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins  asked for  further clarification  about language                                                               
in Section 1;  specifically whether the money  collected from the                                                               
purchase  of the  commemorative  troops license  plates would  be                                                               
allocated to Life Alaska Inc.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Applebee  clarified  that the  Division  of  Motor  Vehicles                                                               
operated two donation  programs: one for money  donated by people                                                               
toward  the organ  transplant  program and  the  other being  the                                                               
commemorative troops  license plate fee. The  language in Section                                                               
1 referred to the organ transplant program.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins acknowledged.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:36:59 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins  asked whether the  eligibility criteria  for the                                                               
disability  license  fee  waiver  proposed in  Section  2,  would                                                               
specify  that an  individual  must  be a  minimum  of 50  percent                                                               
disabled.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Applebee understood that to be correct.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:37:07 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman, noting that Duane  Bannock with the Division of                                                               
Motor Vehicles  was participating  via teleconference,  asked him                                                               
to explain  how the money donated  to the organ donor  program is                                                               
collected and allocated.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DUANE BANNOCK,  Director, Division of Motor  Vehicles, Department                                                               
of Administration,  testified via  teleconference from  an offnet                                                               
location  and informed  the Committee  that "the  Anatomical Gift                                                               
Awareness  Fund" was  established approximately  four years  ago.                                                               
People  visiting a  Division of  Motor Vehicle  Office are  asked                                                               
whether they would like to  contribute to the Fund, also referred                                                               
to as  the Donate  a Dollar  for Life  fund. Donations  have been                                                               
collected for the Program for  approximately the past three and a                                                               
half years.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman asked how the funds are dispersed.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
11:37:59 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bannock  stated that that  is the effort being  undertaken in                                                               
this  bill.  This  legislation  would  allow  that  money  to  be                                                               
allocated to Life Alaska Inc  which is the organization in Alaska                                                               
"responsible of promotion of organ and tissue donation."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman  understood that  the Donate  a Dollar  for Life                                                               
fund has accumulated approximately $60,000 to date.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bannock affirmed.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bannock  disclosed that  he was a  volunteer board  member of                                                               
Life Alaska Inc. donor services.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stedman asked  whether  Life Alaska  Inc.  is the  only                                                               
organization in the State involved in an organ donor program.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bannock understood that to be true.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:38:55 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Amendment #1: This  amendment deletes the entirety  of Section 1,                                                               
page  1 lines  5 through  8 and  replaces it  with the  following                                                               
language.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Section 1. AS 13.50.160(d) is repealed and reenacted to                                                                    
     read:                                                                                                                      
          (d) Money in the fund may be appropriated by the                                                                      
     legislature to an organization for the purpose of promoting                                                                
     the donation program established in AS 13.50 and AS 13.52.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
The  amendment  also  repeals Alaska  Statute  13.50.160(c).  The                                                               
language being deleted reads as follows.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
          (c) Donations to the fund shall be segregated within                                                                  
     the fund until they are appropriated for use by the fund.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman moved Amendment #1  and objected for purposes of                                                               
discussion.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:39:17 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MILES BAKER,  Staff to  Co-Chair Stedman,  distributed a  copy of                                                               
Alaska  Statute  Section  13.15.160.  Anatomical  gift  awareness                                                               
fund.,  which  was  the  section  of  Statute  affected  by  this                                                               
amendment and  a copy of  a May  14, 2007 memorandum  from Gerald                                                               
Luckhaupt,  Legislative  Counsel,  addressed to  Senator  Stedman                                                               
[copies  on  file].  The  memorandum  advised  that  the  "direct                                                               
appropriations  of  funds  to private  organizations,  even  non-                                                               
profit organizations such  as the reference to  Life Alaska, Inc.                                                               
in  Section 1  page 1  line 8  of Version  "V", "may  violate the                                                               
public purpose clause of Art. IX" of the State's Constitution.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Baker stated  that this amendment would  remove the reference                                                               
to  Life Alaska  Inc in  order to  address the  Constitutionality                                                               
concern.  The  intent, however,  is  that  the Legislature  would                                                               
annually authorize an  appropriation to Alaska Life  Inc from the                                                               
fund.  "The  primary reason  the  money  has  not been  spent  is                                                               
because the Legislature just hasn't appropriated it."                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Baker  communicated that the Statutory  language pertinent to                                                               
the Anatomical  gift awareness fund  was modeled after  a similar                                                               
program adopted  by the  State of Washington.  The Statute  "is a                                                               
bit   confusing"   because  that   state's   use   of  the   term                                                               
"appropriations" differs from that of Alaska's.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Baker  advised therefore that  Amendment #1 would  repeal the                                                               
language  currently  in  AS 13.50.160(c)  and  would  rewrite  AS                                                               
13.50.160(d).                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Baker stated  that Life  Alaska Inc.  is currently  the only                                                               
organ donor  management organization  in the State.  The proposed                                                               
language  could accommodate  any  other  organization that  might                                                               
conduct similar operations.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:42:04 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Thomas understood  therefore  that  the amendment  would                                                               
alter language in  Version "V" to specify  that the appropriation                                                               
to  be  made  to  "an  organization" in  general  rather  than  a                                                               
specific named organization.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Baker replied that that was correct.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman removed his objection.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
There being no further objection, Amendment #1 was ADOPTED.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman moved  to report  committee substitute  Version                                                               
25-LS0621\V,   as  amended,   from   Committee  with   individual                                                               
recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
There being  no objection,  SCS CSHB  184(FIN) was  REPORTED from                                                               
Committee with previous  zero fiscal note #1  from the Department                                                               
of Administration.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:43:54 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     SENATE RESOLUTION NO. 7                                                                                                    
     Creating and relating to the Senate VPSO Task Force.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman  announced that the committee  substitute for SR                                                               
7, Version 25-LS0856\C,  was again before the  Committee in order                                                               
to review a new fiscal note pertaining to it.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE: 11:44:17 AM / 11:45:24 AM                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hoffman moved to rescind  the Committee's earlier action                                                               
of reporting the Resolution from Committee.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Without objection, the motion was RESCINDED.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman  directed attention  to the $45,000  fiscal note                                                               
dated April 27, 2007 from the Legislative Affairs Agency (LAA).                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
11:45:45 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Thomas observed  that the  fiscal  note depicted  travel                                                               
expenses for Task Force members,  but did not provide funding for                                                               
staff.  While  language on  page  2  line  13 of  the  Resolution                                                               
specifies that  the LAA would provide  administrative support for                                                               
the Task  Force that  same provision  indicates that  staff might                                                               
also be hired.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
11:46:19 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson explained  that the staff of the  three Senators on                                                               
the Task Force would attend to Task Force needs.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Thomas acknowledged.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:46:54 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson spoke in support  of the Resolution. He advised the                                                               
Committee that, several years earlier,  he had discussed with the                                                               
Adjunct  General  of  the Department  of  Military  and  Veterans                                                               
Affairs "the concept that VPSOs, if  they choose, could also be a                                                               
part  of the  Guard." This  venture would  make federal  training                                                               
money and equipment  available to the VPSOs.  The discussion also                                                               
included the  idea of  sharing facilities  and equipment.  He has                                                               
advised Commissioner Monegan of this opportunity.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson  also hoped that  the Task Force would  explore the                                                               
possibility  of having  the Department  of Military  and Veterans                                                               
Affairs and the Department of  Public Safety "share personnel and                                                               
resources."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:47:57 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman moved  to report  the committee  substitute for                                                               
Resolution   7,   Version   25-LS0856\C,  from   Committee   with                                                               
individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal note.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Without objection, CS SR 7(FIN)  was REPORTED from Committee with                                                               
new  $45,000  fiscal  note,  dated   April  27,  2007,  from  the                                                               
Legislative Affairs Agency.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:48:23 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 244(FIN)                                                                                             
     "An Act creating an Alaska Decoration of Honor and                                                                         
     establishing criteria for awarding the decoration."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This was  the first hearing for  this bill in the  Senate Finance                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:48:54 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
KELLY HUBER, Staff to Representative  Nancy Dahlstrom, the bill's                                                               
sponsor and  Co-Chair, House of Representatives  and Senate Joint                                                               
Armed  Services Committee  (ASC), reminded  the Committee  that a                                                               
concurrent  resolution  creating an  Alaska  Medal  of Honor  was                                                               
passed by the House and  Senate during the 24th Legislature. That                                                               
resolution tasked  this Legislature  with creating the  medal and                                                               
its guidelines.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Huber  reviewed the components  of the bill, noting  that due                                                               
to differing amendments offered in  each house, the provisions of                                                               
this bill varied slightly from  the current version of its Senate                                                               
companion bill.  That bill  had been  introduced by  ASC Co-Chair                                                               
Senator Bill Wielechowski.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Huber  declared that the  purpose of this legislation  was to                                                               
recognize "those  men and women  who give the  ultimate sacrifice                                                               
in the  line of duty". The  original name proposed for  the honor                                                               
has been changed from the "Medal  of Honor" to the "Decoration of                                                               
Honor" in  order to avoid  confusion with, and not  diminish, the                                                               
Congressional Medal of Honor.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Huber  specified that the  State's adjutant general  would be                                                               
responsible for  compiling the names of  individuals eligible for                                                               
the  Decoration.  The  initial   list  submitted  to  the  Senate                                                               
President and the  Speaker of the House would  be a comprehensive                                                               
list  of individuals  since Statehood.  Names would  be submitted                                                               
annually thereafter.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Huber  noted  that  the   adjutant  general  would  also  be                                                               
responsible   for  maintaining   a   complete   listing  of   the                                                               
individuals receiving the Decoration.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Huber  informed the Committee  that the Joint  Armed Services                                                               
Committee  would   be  tasked  with   designing  the   honor  and                                                               
developing the criteria for being  awarded it. This would include                                                               
consideration of how to present the honor to the families.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:51:38 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins inquired to the process for designing the medal.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Huber replied  that the Joint Armed  Services Committee would                                                               
make that  determination. They would  develop a list  of criteria                                                               
and  then find  an  entity  to design  the  medal  based on  that                                                               
criteria.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Huggins commended  the effort  exerted by  Ms. Huber  to                                                               
advance this recognition.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
11:52:48 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hoffman  moved to  report the  bill from  Committee with                                                               
individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
There  being no  objection, CS  HB 244(FIN)am  was REPORTED  from                                                               
Committee  with   previous  $55,000  fiscal  note   #2  from  the                                                               
Legislative Affairs Agency and previous  zero fiscal note #1 from                                                               
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 11:53:20 AM / 11:53:40 AM                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
^ Alaska Marine Highway System Review and Approval                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska Marine Highway System                                                                                               
     Review and Approval                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stedman  communicated  that  in  order  to  assist  the                                                               
Legislature with  their "struggle"  to address the  Alaska Marine                                                               
Highway  System's  (AMHS)  financial challenges  and  enable  the                                                               
State to provide "a viable  transportation system through coastal                                                               
Alaska", the  Committee is proposing to  authorize an expenditure                                                               
of up  to $100,000 to hire  a consultant to advise  the Committee                                                               
on  the matter  during  the Legislative  Interim. Governor  Sarah                                                               
Palin's Administration  and the Department of  Transportation and                                                               
Public  Facilities (DOT)  are also  working to  develop a  report                                                               
about the AMHS. That report should be available in January 2008.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman  contended that conducting this  work during the                                                               
Interim  would be  beneficial to  the workings  of the  Committee                                                               
during the  Second Session of the  25th Legislature, particularly                                                               
as that Session would be limited to 90 days.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:54:39 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman   moved  the  Committee  "expend   $100,000  of                                                               
Committee funds for a Request  for Proposals to review and assess                                                               
the operations of the Alaska Marine Highway System."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Dyson objected  in  order to  ask  whether any  specific                                                               
candidates for this consulting position have been identified.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:55:13 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman  responded that  the proposal  was still  in its                                                               
concept stage. He  noted however that a person on  his staff, who                                                               
had worked  at DOT for  several years  and was familiar  with its                                                               
operations, would  be developing the Request  for Proposals (RFP)                                                               
for the project.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:55:46 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair   Stedman  touted   the  benefits   of  hiring   someone                                                               
unfamiliar with the AMHS. They  might provide "an outside view, a                                                               
fresh look to help us sort through some of these problems."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson appreciated the information.  He recommended that a                                                               
firm named the Elliot Bay Design Group be considered.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stedman  acknowledged  the recommendation  and  invited                                                               
other members to  provide suggestions. He reiterated  the idea of                                                               
hiring someone  unfamiliar with the  System, as a  fresh approach                                                               
might prevent the same problems from resurfacing year to year.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Dyson remarked  that the  effort  should concentrate  on                                                               
developing  a  marine  transportation system  for  southeast  and                                                               
southern  coastal  Alaska  including  the  Gulf  of  Alaska.  The                                                               
conclusion  might be  that something  other  than continuing  the                                                               
status quo AMHS would be  appropriate. For instance, the addition                                                               
of  a  commuter  airline  or  barge  service  in  an  area  might                                                               
compliment  the service.  The effort  should be  to develop  "the                                                               
best transportation  system" rather than solely  concentrating on                                                               
"the best way" to use the System's existing resources.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:57:39 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman  acknowledged that  interest has  been expressed                                                               
"in  seeing some  change in  the way  the State  administers" the                                                               
AMHS.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Dyson  mentioned that  the  previous  AMHS director  had                                                               
envisioned utilizing  short connecter roads to  reduce the length                                                               
of  ferry  routes.  These ideas  are  worth  considering.  Moving                                                               
vehicles and freight by barge or  people by plane as opposed to a                                                               
ferry  might  also make  sense  in  the  endeavor to  develop  an                                                               
"effective and efficient" transportation system.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:58:40 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Elton shared  the expectation that the  effort produce "a                                                               
look from  outside the System. I  think, that too often,  we have                                                               
focused upon having managers come  up with plans but the problem,                                                               
sometimes  there, is  that you're  locked into  what you  already                                                               
haveā€¦" Another  issue is  that "within  the bureaucracy  you have                                                               
different  people that  are protective  of different  elements of                                                               
the system."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Elton agreed  that someone from outside  the system might                                                               
have new ideas about how to move people and freight.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
11:59:31 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Dyson informed  the  Committee that  he  had worked  for                                                               
several  years with  a group  that is  attempting to  implement a                                                               
Northwest Transportation Pass similar to  the Eurail pass for the                                                               
ferry  and  train  systems  in British  Columbia,  the  State  of                                                               
Washington, and  Alaska. The  intent would be  to allow  a person                                                               
purchasing this  pass to ride any  ferry or train in  the system.                                                               
Increasing tourism rider-ship on the  ferries would be a boom for                                                               
the System.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 12:00:25 PM /12:00:53 PM                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson removed his objection to the motion.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Hoffman  moved to withdraw  his motion in order  to move                                                               
more specific language.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
There being no objection, the motion was WITHDRAWN.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Hoffman moved  that  the  Committee authorize  Co-Chair                                                               
Stedman "to solicit,  award, and expend up to  $100,000 of Senate                                                               
Finance  Committee  Funds  for  an   RFP  to  review  and  assess                                                               
operations of the Alaska Marine Highway System."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman objected for discussion.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman qualified  that the motion had  been modified to                                                               
authorize him to act on behalf of the Committee.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
12:01:45 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson  sought assurance  that the  reference to  the AMHS                                                               
did not limit the effort to  just reviewing the ferry system. The                                                               
effort should  be comprehensive  in its  approach to  providing a                                                               
transportation system  would provide  the best service  to people                                                               
in the region.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman affirmed. The goal is to find "a solution".                                                                    
Even though the current transportation mode is dominated by the                                                                 
AMHS, other options should be considered.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman removed his objection.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
There being no further objection, the motion was ADOPTED.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
RECESS TO THE CALL OF CHAIR 12:02:59 PM / 7:55 PM                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stedman brought the Committee back to order. There                                                                     
being no further business to address, the meeting was adjourned.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
[NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, the adjournment of the                                                                    
meeting was not recorded.]                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Bert Stedman adjourned the meeting at 7:55 PM.                                                                         

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