Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/02/1995 01:35 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                   SENATE LABOR AND COMMERCE                                   
                        February 2, 1995                                       
                           1:35 p.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Tim Kelly, Chairman                                                   
 Senator John Torgerson, Vice Chairman                                         
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Judy Salo                                                             
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 Senator Jim Duncan                                                            
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 SENATE BILL NO. 55                                                            
 "An Act repealing the sunset of the enhanced 911 emergency                    
 reporting systems."                                                           
 SENATE BILL NO. 47                                                            
 "An Act relating to the extent to which the Alaska Public Utilities           
 Commission may exercise its powers when regulating utilities;                 
 establishing a regulatory cost charge on public utilities and                 
 pipeline carriers; relating to the allocation of costs in hearings            
 before the Alaska Public Utilities Commission; relating to the                
 method by which utilities are exempted from and made subject to               
 regulation by the Alaska Public Utilities Commission; relating to             
 the monetary threshold for regulation of certain kinds of utilities           
 by the Alaska Public Utilities Commission; extending the Alaska               
 Public Utilities Commission; relating to staggered terms for                  
 members of the Alaska Public Utilities Commission; and providing              
 for an effective date."                                                       
 SL&C - 2/2/95                                                                 
 SB 45 (DAMAGES & ATTY FEES FOR UNPAID WAGES) was scheduled, but not           
 taken up this date.                                                           
  PREVIOUS ACTION                                                              
 No previous action to record.                                                 
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Senator Torgerson                                                             
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Prime sponsor of SB 55.                                  
 Mary Jackson                                                                  
 Legislative Assistant, Senator Torgerson                                      
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information regarding the sunset                 
 Sherman Ernouf, Aide                                                          
 Labor & Commerce                                                              
 Staff to Senator Kelly                                                        
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Stated the Anchorage Chief of Police's support           
                      for SB 55.                                               
 Mark Johnson, Chief                                                           
 Emergency Medical Service                                                     
 Department of Health & Social Services                                        
 P.O. Box 110616                                                               
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0616                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported SB 55 and suggested extending                  
                      enhanced 911 service to rural areas.                     
 Josh Fink, Legislative Aide                                                   
 Staff to Senator Kelly                                                        
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained SB 47.                                         
 Alyce Hanley                                                                  
 Alaska Public Utilities Commission                                            
 4007 Brentwood Circle                                                         
 Anchorage, Alaska 99502                                                       
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Expressed concern with the language of Section           
                      1, but urged that SB 47 be moved.                        
 Don Schoer                                                                    
 1016 W 6th, Suite 400                                                         
 Anchorage, Alaska 99501                                                       
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported quick action of SB 47 with no                  
 Jim Rowe, Executive Director                                                  
 Alaska Telephone Association                                                  
 4341 B Street, Suite 304                                                      
 Anchorage, Alaska 99503                                                       
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported SB 47 in its current form.                     
 Jimmy Jackson                                                                 
 2550 Denali Street                                                            
 Anchorage, Alaska 99503                                                       
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Expressed concerns with SB 47.                           
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
  TAPE 95-2, SIDE A                                                            
 SL&C - 2/2/95                                                                 
        SB  55 REPEALING SUNSET OF ENHANCED 911 SYSTEM                       
 Number 001                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN KELLY called the Labor and Commerce meeting to order at              
 1:35 p.m. and introduced  SB 55  as the first order of business               
 before the committee.                                                         
 SENATOR TORGERSON, Prime Sponsor of SB 55, explained that SB 55               
 would repeal the sunset clause in the original bill which allowed             
 enhanced 911 emergency systems.  He noted letters of support from             
 the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the city of Juneau as well as                 
 others coming from Anchorage and Fairbanks.                                   
 SENATOR SALO said that she supported SB 55, but inquired as to the            
 reason a sunset was placed on the bill in the first place.  SENATOR           
 TORGERSON suggested that perhaps the sunset was in place on the               
 possibility that state money might be available after the systems             
 were operating.                                                               
 MARY JACKSON, Legislative Assistant to Senator Torgerson, explained           
 that the sunset provision was due to amendments in House Finance              
 which intended to afford the Telecommunications Information                   
 Committee (TIC) the opportunity to review and possibly do this on             
 a statewide scope.  TIC is currently waiting to determine if there            
 will be any state or federal funding available to expand statewide.           
 SHERMAN ERNOUF, Aide to Senator Kelly for Labor & Commerce,                   
 confirmed that the Anchorage Chief of Police supported SB 55.                 
 MARK JOHNSON, Chief of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) for the            
 Department of Health & Social Services, stated that EMS supports              
 the intent of SB 55.  He pointed out that the enhanced 911 systems            
 allows the dispatcher to have the phone number and location of the            
 caller.  He suggested that the enhanced 911 system should be                  
 extended into rural areas at some point.                                      
 SENATOR MILLER moved that SB 55 be moved out of committee with                
 individual recommendations.  Without objections, it was so ordered.           
 SL&C - 2/2/95                                                                 
       SB  47 APUC EXTENSION AND REGULATORY COST CHARGE                      
 Number 108                                                                    
 SENATOR KELLY introduced  SB 47  as the next order of business before         
 the committee.                                                                
 JOSH FINK, Legislative Aide to Senator Kelly, informed the                    
 committee that SB 47 is the reintroduction of SB 213 of the                   
 Eighteenth Legislature.  He explained that SB 47 would extend the             
 Alaska Public Utilities Commission (APUC) currently in its sunset             
 year and it would restore the Regulatory Cost Charge (RCC) which              
 has expired.                                                                  
 SENATOR KELLY clarified that SB 47 extends the sunset and the                 
 provisions agreed upon the previous two years.  Any other issue               
 with the APUC would be handled in APUC II.                                    
 JOSH FINK summarized the sectional information contained in the               
 committee packets.                                                            
 Number 250                                                                    
 SENATOR SALO asked why a year was needed to make the transition               
 that the language change in Section 1 specified, from "liberally              
 construed" to "all things necessary and reasonably implied."  JOSH            
 FINK explained that some utilities felt that the language granted             
 too broad a power to the Commission while others thought that                 
 express power was needed.  The year allows the Commission to assess           
 what this change means and how to deal with it.                               
 ALYCE HANLEY, APUC, expressed appreciation to Senator Kelly in                
 drafting and presenting SB 47.  The Commission is in a tenuous                
 position until SB 47 is passed because employees do not know their            
 fate.  As of April 1st the Commission's position worsens because              
 ninety day periods of due process will no longer be available.  She           
 pointed out that an extension of APUC and the reenacting of the RCC           
 as well as the new effective date are supported by APUC.  She                 
 expressed concern with the language change in Section 1.  The new             
 language is the reason for the $60,000 fiscal note; the money would           
 cover increased litigation due to challenges of the meaning of the            
 language.  She recommended, speaking on behalf of the APUC,                   
 deletion of Section 1.  She urged movement of the bill.                       
 SENATOR MILLER asked which parties were those that compromised on             
 Section 1, if the APUC is suggesting that section's deletion.  JOSH           
 FINK stated that he believed that the compromise was between APUC             
 and other groups.  This change occurred in the Senate Finance                 
 SENATOR MILLER urged the APUC to review its position in order not             
 to slow this legislation.  ALYCE HANLEY said that the Commission's            
 main concern was to deal with this quickly.  She reiterated the               
 Commission's preference to keep the original language of Section 1,           
 however, she recognized that in order for SB 47 to move quickly               
 that may not happen.                                                          
 Number 349                                                                    
 SENATOR MILLER inquired as to the reasoning behind the increase in            
 staff by one a year and the budget by $300,000 a year reflected in            
 the fiscal note.  ALYCE HANLEY believed that it was due to a                  
 recommendation when the Commission put the budget together.                   
 DON SCHOER explained that the budget and personnel increases are              
 the result of the guidelines from Juneau on how to compute the five           
 year statistics including three and a half percent inflation and              
 expected population growth.  He urged quick action and no                     
 JIM ROWE, Executive Director of the Alaska Telephone Association,             
 discussed the history of SB 47 and the compromises that it                    
 contains.   He expressed disappointment that the legislation was              
 not passed last year.  He stated the Association's support of SB 47           
 in its present form.                                                          
 Number 396                                                                    
 JIMMY JACKSON, GCI, reiterated that the main priority is quick                
 passage of legislation reauthorizing APUC.  He felt that a prompt             
 reauthorization of the APUC would be in the best interest of the              
 public.  He expressed the need to have the issue of reauthorization           
 in separate legislation.  SB 47 addresses many issues as well as              
 reauthorization of APUC.  The language change in Section 1 of SB 47           
 is not in the best interest of the public.  He stated that the                
 world of utilities changes quickly and the Commission needs to                
 adjust accordingly.  The Commission cannot wait to receive                    
 authority from the legislature when problems arise that need to be            
 solved quickly.  He indicated that the new legislature should                 
 review the APUC.                                                              
 SENATOR KELLY stated that SB 47 would not receive too many                    
 amendments in this committee.  He explained that APUC II had been             
 introduced and hearings would be held on that legislation in order            
 to deal with the amendments then.                                             
 SENATOR SALO asked if the discussion over the language change in              
 Section 1 of SB 47 would occur with APUC II.  SENATOR KELLY                   
 anticipated that the language would not become a part of APUC II if           
 it remains in SB 47.                                                          
 SENATOR MILLER moved SB 47 out of committee with individual                   
 recommendations.  Without objection, it was so ordered.                       
 There being no further business before the committee, the meeting             
 adjourned at 2:07 p.m.                                                        

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