Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/06/2003 01:30 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
          SENATE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                        
                        February 6, 2003                                                                                        
                           1:30 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Con Bunde, Chair                                                                                                        
Senator Ralph Seekins                                                                                                           
Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                                            
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Alan Austerman                                                                                                          
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 20                                                                                                              
"An Act extending the termination date of the Board of Marine                                                                   
Pilots; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                   
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                               
SB 20 - No previous action to record.                                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Senator Therriault                                                                                                              
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 20.                                                                                         
Senator Dyson                                                                                                                   
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Co-sponsor of SB 20.                                                                                      
Mr. Rick Urion, Director                                                                                                        
Division of Occupational Licensing                                                                                              
Department of Labor & Workforce                                                                                                 
PO Box 21149                                                                                                                    
Juneau, AK 99802-1149                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 20.                                                                                          
Ms. Kate Tesar                                                                                                                  
Alaska Yacht Services                                                                                                           
Juneau AK                                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on yacht exemption issues.                                                                      
Captain Robert Winter                                                                                                           
Southeast Alaska Pilots Association                                                                                             
9370 View Dr.                                                                                                                   
Juneau AK 99801                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 20 and commented on yacht                                                                    
exemption issues.                                                                                                               
Mr. Joe Geldhof                                                                                                                 
United States Navy League, Juneau Chapter                                                                                       
229 4th Street                                                                                                                  
Juneau AK 99801                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 20.                                                                                          
Captain Dale Collins, President                                                                                                 
Southeast Alaska Pilots Association                                                                                             
4212 Tongass Hwy.                                                                                                               
Ketchikan AK 99901                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 20.                                                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
TAPE 03-3, SIDE A                                                                                                             
CHAIR CON  BUNDE called  the Senate  Labor and  Commerce Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order  at 1:30  p.m. Present  were Senators                                                               
Davis,  French, Seekins  and Chair  Bunde. Senator  Austerman was                                                               
excused. The first order of business was SB 20.                                                                                 
              SB  20-EXTEND BOARD OF MARINE PILOTS                                                                          
SENATOR THERRIAULT, sponsor of SB 20, said the Board of Marine                                                                  
Pilots underwent an audit review, from which the following                                                                      
recommendations were made:                                                                                                      
        1. The Board of Marine Pilots should ensure that regional                                                               
          pilot associations administer mandatory random drug                                                                   
          testing programs in a manner consistent with                                                                          
          established regulatory standards.                                                                                     
        2. The Board of Marine Pilots should establish more                                                                     
          informative and comprehensive reporting requirements                                                                  
          so the marine pilot coordinator can confirm an                                                                        
          appropriate number of  licensed pilots are consistently                                                               
          being subjected to random testing.                                                                                    
        3. The Legislature should consider amending current                                                                     
          statutes in order to extend  mandatory drug and alcohol                                                               
          testing   to  pilot   and  organization   trainees  and                                                               
        4. The Board of Marine Pilots should seek statutory                                                                     
          authority to  allow the board  the discretion  to grant                                                               
          waivers  of  pilotage  requirements to  large  pleasure                                                               
          craft.  This  is  a  complicated  issue  as  there  are                                                               
          homeland security issues and  other issues that need to                                                               
          be dealt with.                                                                                                        
SENATOR THERRIAULT  said additional issues need  to be discussed,                                                               
but he would like to see those addressed in a different bill.                                                                   
SENATOR  DYSON, co-sponsor  of SB  20,  said that  90 percent  of                                                               
Alaska's freight is seaborne and the  North Pacific is one of the                                                               
more  dangerous water  bodies in  the world  that requires  local                                                               
knowledge to navigate.                                                                                                          
The Coast Guard has homeland  security responsibilities and their                                                               
first  line of  defense  is tracking  vessels  offshore that  are                                                               
approaching  our  shoreline  and  ports. They  are  developing  a                                                               
sophisticated system to require every  vessel over 300 gross tons                                                               
to have a  transponder on it. The Coast Guard  is also asking all                                                               
vessels  entering Alaskan  waters  to  preregister with  specific                                                               
The Coast Guard's next  line of defense is to put  a pilot on the                                                               
boat at the three-mile limit or  at some safe location. The Coast                                                               
Guard  counts on  that pilot  to be  the first  person to  see if                                                               
anything is wrong. This is a  very key part of homeland security.                                                               
Those pilots  will follow protocols for  alerting the appropriate                                                               
authorities if they suspect a problem.                                                                                          
CHAIR BUNDE  asked Senator  Dyson if he  was urging  caution when                                                               
granting an exemption for security reasons.                                                                                     
SENATOR DYSON  said he has been  a part of an  ongoing discussion                                                               
for  the  last  year  and  a   half  on  these  issues,  but  the                                                               
stakeholders are, at  best, months away from agreeing  on a final                                                               
CHAIR  BUNDE  asked   if  it  is  more  reasonable,   as  far  as                                                               
enforcement  goes,  to discuss  length  limits  instead of  gross                                                               
tonnage because the average citizen  would be better able to make                                                               
that type of judgment.                                                                                                          
SENATOR  DYSON  replied he  didn't  have  a good  answer  because                                                               
arguments could be made both ways.                                                                                              
1:45 p.m.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  FRENCH asked  if all  vessels have  to pre-register  and                                                               
have transponders on board right now.                                                                                           
SENATOR  DYSON advised  that  the Coast  Guard  is requiring  all                                                               
commercial  foreign   vessels  to   pre-register  and   they  are                                                               
considering extending  the 96-hour  requirement to  actually pre-                                                               
clearing  a vessel  before  it  leaves its  port  of origin.  The                                                               
vessels would be  inspected before going to sea  and the manifest                                                               
certified.  Hopefully  the  manifest wouldn't  change  while  the                                                               
vessel is at sea.                                                                                                               
CHAIR BUNDE  inserted that transponders  are required  of vessels                                                               
over 300 gross tons.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  DYSON stated  that a  sophisticated  system of  tracking                                                               
transponders has been developed here in Juneau.                                                                                 
SENATOR SEEKINS  noted that that system  tracks transponders, not                                                               
necessarily the  vessels. He pointed  out that a  terrorist could                                                               
move a transponder  easily and reminded members that,  "It was an                                                               
inflatable that took out the side of the USS Cole."                                                                             
He  asked if  a timeline  had been  set for  coming up  with some                                                               
SENATOR DYSON  replied yes, but  he didn't know  what it is.   He                                                               
noted  there are  huge vulnerabilities,  but a  lot of  companies                                                               
have a  very good track  record and are relatively  low-risk. The                                                               
Coast Guard  wants to  find all  the ones  that are  low-risk, so                                                               
they can concentrate their attention  on the ones they don't know                                                               
SENATOR  SEEKINS said  it  looks  like most  people  who want  an                                                               
exemption to the pilot rule  are foreign flagged vessels that are                                                               
owned by U.S. corporations.                                                                                                     
2:50 p.m.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  THERRIAULT returned  to the  witness stand  and said  he                                                               
would like to see these issues  addressed in a bill separate from                                                               
SB 20.                                                                                                                          
CHAIR  BUNDE asked  if  he  was aware  of  any great  legislative                                                               
opposition to introducing another bill.                                                                                         
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  replied  that  he  thought  there  was  some                                                               
interest in  [fostering] economic activity from  yachts, but that                                                               
is a complex  issue. He maintained there is no  question that the                                                               
board is operating in a correct fashion and should be extended.                                                                 
MR.  RICK URION,  Director, Division  of Occupational  Licensing,                                                               
supported  SB  20.  He  informed members  that,  "If  it  becomes                                                               
something in addition to what it  is now, we may well reserve the                                                               
right to come back and talk about what the conditions are."                                                                     
MS.  KATE  TESAR, Alaskan  Yacht  Servicing  and Provisioning,  a                                                               
small  local business,  said this  business caters  to the  large                                                               
yachts that come  into Southeast Alaska. Her client  works in the                                                               
industry  and shipped  out for  two weeks  so that's  why she  is                                                               
appearing for her.                                                                                                              
MS. TESAR  said she  has experience in  this field  having worked                                                               
for  12  years for  one  of  the  defunct  pilot groups  and  was                                                               
involved  in the  major rewrite  of the  marine pilotage  laws in                                                               
1991 and  1995. She  has also  worked as  a consultant  to cruise                                                               
lines traveling in  Alaska and had a business similar  to the one                                                               
she  is  representing  in  the  early  1980s.  She  supports  the                                                               
extension of the Board of Marine  Pilots and said it is operating                                                               
better than it ever has in the past.                                                                                            
She  added  that  she  supports amending  the  statute  to  allow                                                               
foreign  flag  vessels of  over  300  tons  to come  into  Alaska                                                               
without a marine pilot on board.   She explained that law was put                                                               
into  effect in  1995 and  at that  time a  decision was  made to                                                               
exempt  all U.S.  pleasure craft  of any  size from  pilotage "So                                                               
right  now, if  it is  a U.S.  registered vessel,  it can  travel                                                               
anywhere in the state without pilotage."                                                                                        
MS. TESAR said she would like  to see Alaska use a system similar                                                               
to the one that's been in  effect in Washington state since 1977,                                                               
which would allow  these vessels to come into Alaska  if they are                                                               
less  than  500  tons  or  200 ft.  She  explained  that  British                                                               
Columbia also  has a waiver  system in  place and that  Alaska is                                                               
losing  out to  British  Columbia regarding  scheduling of  those                                                               
yachts in our waters.                                                                                                           
She said  a major rewrite of  the Marine Pilotage Act  took place                                                               
in  1991 and  some  changes were  made in  1995  when the  sunset                                                               
language  came up.  In  1999, the  sunset came  up  again and  an                                                               
agreement was  made between all  parties that the  language would                                                               
remain as  is with the  only change being the  one-line extension                                                               
of the  Board. People did not  realize the growth that  was going                                                               
to  take place  in  this industry.  Prior to  1995,  anyone on  a                                                               
pleasure craft of any size could  come into the United States and                                                               
Alaska without a  marine pilot. In 1995 the decision  was made to                                                               
exempt by law all the U.S.  flagged vessels. At that time the 300                                                               
gross ton limit on foreign flagged vessels was put into law.                                                                    
CHAIR BUNDE asked the length of a vessel of 300 gross tons.                                                                     
MS. TESAR replied  that there is no  correlation between tonnage,                                                               
length  and size.  She explained  the 300  gross ton  statute was                                                               
enacted because  a vessel  700 to  900 ft.  belonging to  a major                                                               
environmental group in  the United States was  cruising in Alaska                                                               
during the summer doing research.                                                                                               
CHAIR BUNDE inserted, "The Rainbow Warrior."                                                                                    
MS.  TESAR affirmed  that and  explained the  concern was  that a                                                               
vessel that large  was carrying passengers and a  large amount of                                                               
fuel in  Alaskan waters  without a pilot  onboard. At  that time,                                                               
all U.S.  craft of any size  were exempted. She stated,  "So, you                                                               
can have  two ships that are  exactly the same size,  same crews,                                                               
both  built in  the United  States,  but for  many reasons  these                                                               
large ships are flagged in other countries...."                                                                                 
CHAIR BUNDE  asked if  U.S. flagged vessels  are allowed  to have                                                               
foreign crew.                                                                                                                   
MS. TESAR  replied that  U.S. flagged vessels  have to  adhere to                                                               
the Jones Act, which is  another reason offshore destinations are                                                               
looked at.  She stated, "I will  say that 90 percent  of ships of                                                               
this  class  that   are  traveling  around  the   world  now  are                                                               
registered  in Great  Britain.  They are  known  as the  maritime                                                               
chiefs  and  I  know  the  majority of  the  ships'  masters  and                                                               
captains are either British or of U.S. origin."                                                                                 
She said  there is no reporting  system in place to  indicate who                                                               
is coming to  Alaska, when they are here or  anything else. Coast                                                               
Guard regulations are  in place and require a  98-hour report and                                                               
a new  24-hour report.  If Alaska  follows the  Washington waiver                                                               
system,  there   is  a   place  on   the  application   for  this                                                               
information.  Her  client has  no  problem  with the  transponder                                                               
issue. She stated her client  is totally interested in the safety                                                               
issues and  there are already  very stringent  safety regulations                                                               
that the multi-million dollar yachts  have to adhere to regarding                                                               
every aspect of  operation, including insurance, which  is a huge                                                               
MS.  TESAR said  the legislative  vehicle for  this issue  hasn't                                                               
been decided yet, but her group  feels that changes to the marine                                                               
pilot statutes are [usually] in  the bill that extends the board.                                                               
However, they do not want to hold up the bill.                                                                                  
2:08 p.m.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  FRENCH asked  if  the  Coast Guard  is  the agency  that                                                               
collects information  on the  boats that are  coming to  and from                                                               
Alaska  and whether  they would  know  how many  boats are  being                                                               
MS. TESAR  replied it is  her understanding that the  Coast Guard                                                               
collects  that information  98  hours  and 24  hours  prior to  a                                                               
vessel entering U.S. waters, but she had not seen the form.                                                                     
CHAIR  BUNDE said  he would  appreciate her  group coming  to the                                                               
committee next week with a united front.                                                                                        
MS.  TESAR  agreed and  said  the  general parameters  have  been                                                               
agreed upon and some of the specifics would be worked out.                                                                      
CAPTAIN   ROBERT   WINTER,   Southeast   Alaska   Marine   Pilots                                                               
Association, said  he is  a State  of Alaska  Marine Pilot  and a                                                               
retired Coast  Guard officer. He has  been going to sea  for over                                                               
37  years and  25 of  those have  been in  Southeast Alaska.  The                                                               
Alaska Marine Pilotage Act is the  envy of many states and Alaska                                                               
is on the  cutting edge of marine training to  ensure that pilots                                                               
are at  the top of their  profession. He urged members  to extend                                                               
the board.                                                                                                                      
CAPTAIN  WINTER  said  he  is   committed  to  working  with  the                                                               
Legislature  to  help  others  who need  changes  to  the  Marine                                                               
Pilotage Act, "...as  long as those changes  maintain the highest                                                               
standards in pilotage, safety and environmental concerns."                                                                      
CHAIR BUNDE said  if the larger U.S. flagged  vessels are allowed                                                               
in Alaska waters  without pilots, why would  different laws apply                                                               
to foreign flagged  vessels or vice versa.  He questioned whether                                                               
U.S. flagged vessels need pilots when they go to foreign ports.                                                                 
CAPTAIN WINTER replied  that it's difficult when  looking at both                                                               
state and federal statutes to  require a U.S. flagged vessel with                                                               
a U.S. master and U.S. licensed  crew that meets the Jones Act to                                                               
have  a  pilot. He  explained  that  large  vessels must  have  a                                                               
federal  pilot;  the  ferries  are  considered  to  be  "enrolled                                                               
vessels";  and   Alaska  state   pilots  have   federal  pilotage                                                               
CHAIR  BUNDE  asked  if  the  general  line  of  demarcation  for                                                               
requiring a pilot is 300 gross tons or more.                                                                                    
2:12 p.m.                                                                                                                     
CAPTAIN WINTER replied that is correct. He told members:                                                                        
     To give  you a number on  how big a 300  gross ton ship                                                                    
     is - York Town Clipper,  if you're familiar with it, is                                                                    
     one of  the cruise ships out  here that is 250  ft., 99                                                                    
     gross tons.  Her international tonnage is  on the order                                                                    
     of 3,000 gross tons.  Because she's built to subchapter                                                                    
     T of the  Coast Guard regulations, or the  CFR, all her                                                                    
     accommodations open to  a weather deck, so  none of the                                                                    
     cabin  space counts  as gross  tonnage.... It's  not an                                                                    
     easy - they're built to  be rule-beaters, to be able to                                                                    
     carry as much  as you can under 99  gross tons, because                                                                    
     the  requirements for  safety, for  everything is  much                                                                    
     less for  T boats - which  is under 99 gross  tons. All                                                                    
     the big  catamarans you  see around  here are  99 gross                                                                    
     tons and they carry 300 people.                                                                                            
He added that  the American Pilots Association  (APA) was getting                                                               
information  from the  Lower  48  states on  how  they deal  with                                                               
yachts. He advised:                                                                                                             
     Virginia gives waivers, Florida  gives waivers only for                                                                    
     vessels  that  draw  less than  seven  feet  of  water,                                                                    
     Maryland gives  waivers for only vessels  less than 100                                                                    
     gross  tons, Delaware  was less  than  100 gross  tons,                                                                    
     they just  went up to  300 gross tons. So,  every state                                                                    
     kind  of deals  with it  how  they choose  and I  think                                                                    
     depending  upon  the  geography   of  the  state  might                                                                    
     determine how you deal with it.                                                                                            
SENATOR FRENCH asked if other  states maintain the same U.S. flag                                                               
versus  foreign  flag  distinction  in their  pilotage  or  labor                                                               
CAPTAIN WINTER  replied they do  as far  as he knew,  but advised                                                               
Senator  French "not  to take  that to  the bank."  He added  the                                                               
APA's legal  counsel was going to  have the report on  all of the                                                               
requirements in other states ready soon.                                                                                        
MR.  JOE  GELDHOF,  United States  Navy  League,  explained  that                                                               
Theodore   Roosevelt  and   other  individuals   concerned  about                                                               
maritime security founded  the league in 1902. Now  the league is                                                               
an  advocacy group  for the  U.S. Navy,  Marine Corps,  the Coast                                                               
Guard and the  Merchant Marine. He said the league  is asking for                                                               
a  warship  exemption  from  pilotage   and  explained  that  the                                                               
Chilean, Japanese and Taiwanese Navies  work hard in the Gulf and                                                               
when they come into Juneau or  Skagway to relax, they wouldn't be                                                               
faced with the pilotage fees. He pointed out:                                                                                   
     In  all  likelihood  there would  be  someone  with  an                                                                    
     American  or someone  with  piloting  experience and  I                                                                    
     think  the correct  technical reading  of our  existing                                                                    
     law, and this  has been problematic in  some few cases,                                                                    
     particularly with the Canadian  Navy, they are required                                                                    
     to pay  them and because  they hadn't been  budgeted it                                                                    
     meant  no  liberty  call or  no  visitation  in  Alaska                                                                    
     coastal waters.                                                                                                            
MR. GELDHOF  said he was  willing to  work on finding  the proper                                                               
language. He summarized  that basically the league  does not want                                                               
warships  to  get  nickel  and dimed  on  pilotage.  However,  he                                                               
strongly  supports  having  this  issue  dealt  with  in  SB  20,                                                               
"because it's going to pass...."                                                                                                
TAPE 03-3, SIDE B                                                                                                             
CAPTAIN   DALE  COLLINS,   President,  Southeast   Alaska  Pilots                                                               
Association (SAPA),  said SAPA supports  SB 20 and would  work to                                                               
resolve the yacht  issue. He said, as it relates  to the Pilotage                                                               
Act, the  State of Alaska  is only empowered to  regulate foreign                                                               
flagged vessels under registry and  U.S. flagged vessels that are                                                               
sailing foreign.  He said this  is a key  point, "If a  vessel is                                                               
U.S.  flagged  and sailing  coastal  under  enrollment, you  come                                                               
under  the jurisdiction  of the  U.S. Coast  Guard. No  state has                                                               
been granted the  right to regulate the movement  of U.S. flagged                                                               
vessels and coast-wise trade that are under enrollment."                                                                        
CAPTAIN COLLINS said the Coast  Guard would require such a vessel                                                               
to have at  least one trip in  the area or it would  have to have                                                               
"a  first  class  pilot  on  board"  for  that  size  vessel.  He                                                               
continued,  "So, even  the United  States  does not  let any  300                                                               
gross tons or  more sail into our Alaska state  water with a U.S.                                                               
flag under  enrollment and  go through  Wrangell Narrows  if they                                                               
haven't seen it at least once."                                                                                                 
He  thought that  the exemption  for foreign  flagged vessels  of                                                               
less than 300 gross tons has  been in statute since 1970. Another                                                               
issue is  why those vessels  wouldn't want  a pilot on  board. It                                                               
isn't an issue  of economics as originally thought,  but it comes                                                               
down  to  an issue  of  privacy.  Regarding warships  from  other                                                               
countries, all U.S. warships are  exempt from state pilotage but,                                                               
"They all take pilots except  in their home ports. The principles                                                               
of good  seamanship apply that  you wouldn't want  to necessarily                                                               
sail into  waters that you  weren't intimately familiar  with and                                                               
try to navigate coastal waters."                                                                                                
He  said he  does not  want to  see anything  attached to  SB 20,                                                               
because there  are lots of  issues and exceptions that  will take                                                               
time to consider.                                                                                                               
CHAIR  BUNDE said  the committee  would  work on  this issue  and                                                               
bring it  up again next  Thursday. He then adjourned  the meeting                                                               
at 2:28 p.m.                                                                                                                    

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