Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/13/2003 01:35 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 13, 2003                                                                                        
                           1:35 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Con Bunde, Chair                                                                                                        
Senator Ralph Seekins                                                                                                           
Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                                            
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 20                                                                                                              
"An Act extending the termination date of the Board of Marine                                                                   
Pilots; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                   
     MOVED SB 20 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                               
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                               
SB 20 - See Labor and Commerce minutes dated 2/6/03.                                                                            
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 20.                                                                                         
Ms. Pat Davidson                                                                                                                
Legislative Auditor                                                                                                             
PO Box 113300                                                                                                                   
Juneau AK 99811-3300                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on the audit of the Board of                                                                    
Marine Pilots.                                                                                                                  
Captain Bob Winter                                                                                                              
Southeast Alaska Pilots Association                                                                                             
9370 View Dr.                                                                                                                   
Juneau AK 99801                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 20 and commented on drug                                                                     
testing issues.                                                                                                                 
Ms. Kate Tesar                                                                                                                  
Alaska Yacht Services                                                                                                           
Juneau AK 99801                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 20.                                                                                       
Mr. Jeff Bush                                                                                                                   
320 W 8th St.                                                                                                                   
Juneau AK 99801                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 20.                                                                                       
Mr. Don Habeger                                                                                                                 
Royal Caribbean International                                                                                                   
9300 View Dr.                                                                                                                   
Juneau AK 99801                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 20.                                                                                          
Mr. Joe Geldhof                                                                                                                 
United States Navy League, Juneau Chapter                                                                                       
229 4th Street                                                                                                                  
Juneau AK 99801                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 20 and commented on a foreign                                                                
warships exemption.                                                                                                             
Captain Dave Anders                                                                                                             
Off Net                                                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 20 and commented on the small                                                                
yacht exemption issue.                                                                                                          
Ms. Diana Fabozzi                                                                                                               
Marsh Products Client Services                                                                                                  
Ft. Lauderdale FL                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 20 and the small yacht                                                                    
exemption issue.                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
TAPE 03-4, SIDE A                                                                                                             
CHAIR CON BUNDE called the Senate Labor and Commerce Standing                                                                 
Committee meeting to order at 1:35 p.m.  Present were Senators                                                                  
Ralph Seekins, Bettye Davis, Hollis French and Chair Con Bunde.                                                                 
              SB  20-EXTEND BOARD OF MARINE PILOTS                                                                          
CHAIR BUNDE announced SB 20 to be up for consideration.                                                                         
SENATOR GENE  THERRIAULT, sponsor  of SB  20, said  the committee                                                               
discussion last week  was thorough, particularly on  the issue of                                                               
small yacht activity.  He continues to be  contacted by Southeast                                                               
Alaska  mayors who  say  they  have an  interest  in seeing  that                                                               
activity  fostered. However,  because small  yacht activity  is a                                                               
more complex issue,  he hopes the committee  will consider moving                                                               
this bill  forward while other  language is developed  to address                                                               
yacht  activity.  He hopes  the  committee  will talk  about  the                                                               
random drug  testing program  concerns because  he wants  to make                                                               
sure the current program is operating correctly.                                                                                
MS. PAT DAVIDSON, Director of  the Division of Legislative Budget                                                               
and  Audit, told  members that  during  the course  of the  audit                                                               
nothing indicated  there are any  problems with  the drug-testing                                                               
program. The  board delegated the authority  for the drug-testing                                                               
program to  the regional associations.  She reviewed  the program                                                               
with  the board's  assistance  and found  that  the program  just                                                               
needs some "tightening up." She  explained that people need to be                                                               
aware  of  situations,  "...where,   for  instance,  a  pilot  is                                                               
currently unavailable to  take the test because he  is working or                                                               
if the office is closed."                                                                                                       
MS.  DAVIDSON pointed  out that  one of  the associations  joined                                                               
with other  organizations to create  a consortium to  do testing.                                                               
She found the  consortium was not meeting the  50 percent minimum                                                               
requirement, but  she said it was  just a matter of  altering the                                                               
approach  to  testing.  If  a  large  pool  requires  50  percent                                                               
testing, the  [requirement for the]  small pool of  marine pilots                                                               
also  needs  to   be  50  percent.  The   associations  or  their                                                               
contractors need  to be reporting  information regarding  who was                                                               
available to  be tested, who was  tested and the test  results to                                                               
the marine  pilot coordinator. The  coordinator needs to  know of                                                               
any bad tests, whether those  people were retested to insure test                                                               
validity and whether something needs to  be done if a pilot comes                                                               
out  with a  "dirty"  test.  She noted,  "You  have  to have  the                                                               
board's involvement there."                                                                                                     
MS.  DAVIDSON   said  one  other  recommendation   was  that  the                                                               
Legislature  should decide  whether  to  extend the  drug-testing                                                               
requirement to  trainees and apprentices. However,  many of those                                                               
individuals,  because of  their  occupations,  are already  under                                                               
some sort of required random  testing, though possibly not to the                                                               
same extent as pilots.                                                                                                          
1:40 p.m.                                                                                                                     
CAPTAIN   BOB  WINTER,   Southeast  Alaska   Pilots  Association,                                                               
informed  the committee  that the  training program  requires all                                                               
trainees  to  be  enrolled  in  a  random  drug-testing  program.                                                               
Regarding the  issue of 50  percent of a  large group or  a small                                                               
group, the  association was complying  with federal  statute, but                                                               
he assured the committee that  it would come into compliance with                                                               
the random drug-testing question.                                                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH  asked if  he was talking  about just  random drug                                                               
testing or the random drug and alcohol-testing program.                                                                         
CAPTAIN WINTER replied that he  was referring to the random drug-                                                               
testing  program  and that  holding  a  federal license  requires                                                               
SENATOR  FRENCH   said  that  wouldn't  stop   anyone  under  the                                                               
influence  of drugs  from getting  behind  the wheel  of a  ship,                                                               
since it takes a few days for the test results to come back.                                                                    
CAPTAIN WINTER replied the only way  to know if someone was under                                                               
the influence is if that person  was tested. It routinely takes 2                                                               
to 3 days to get test  results back. A positive hit might trigger                                                               
a  call   from  the  medical   review  officer  to   the  pilot's                                                               
association, to the officer and  to the employer. The Coast Guard                                                               
would  be  called immediately.  In  all  cases  he knew  of,  the                                                               
individuals went  in and provided  another sample.  He indicated,                                                               
"We never had a positive that  was a true positive. They were all                                                               
false positives."                                                                                                               
1:44 p.m.                                                                                                                     
CHAIR BUNDE  commented that  anyone who  was under  the influence                                                               
would have  to be confronted  by people working in  the immediate                                                               
CAPTAIN WINTER added that the  association is required by statute                                                               
to  report  any  violation  of  state law  and  being  under  the                                                               
influence is a  violation. The group would lose  their charter as                                                               
a pilotage group if they didn't report.                                                                                         
MS.  KATE TESAR,  Alaska Yacht  Services, said  she hadn't  had a                                                               
chance to talk  with interested parties as she had  agreed to do,                                                               
but  support was  flowing  in about  the  economic stimulus  that                                                               
yachts and their crews would provide to Southeast communities.                                                                  
She explained  that she was  looking for a  seamless intelligence                                                               
service that could coordinate between  the states and the federal                                                               
government and perhaps  Canada to figure out how  they could look                                                               
at these  issues. She  found that  Ed Page and  his staff  at the                                                               
Marine Exchange of  Alaska already have a system  in place called                                                               
the global  marine distress signaling system.  Under that system,                                                               
they  put transponders  on boats  in  Alaska and  can locate  the                                                               
boats as  frequently as once every  hour to find out  their exact                                                               
position and, "It costs about $2.50."                                                                                           
MS.  TESAR  said  she  talked with  folks  at  the  International                                                               
Maritime  Organization, which  is the  marine arm  of the  United                                                               
Nations. They  adopted a comprehensive security  regime that will                                                               
go into  effect July 2004  and all  the yachts the  committee has                                                               
been talking about  now have to comply. Her  main concern relates                                                               
to  recommendation 4  in the  audit, which  would give  the board                                                               
statutory  authority for  discretion  regarding  waivers for  the                                                               
yachts coming into the state.                                                                                                   
MR. JEFF BUSH said he  was representing himself. He reported that                                                               
until a week  ago he was a  member of the Board  of Marine Pilots                                                               
and for the last six years he  was chair of the board. He advised                                                               
that  extending the  Marine  Pilot Board  is  the most  important                                                               
thing this committee and Legislature could do.                                                                                  
He pointed  out that the  yacht issue  has been before  the board                                                               
for five years  and he recommended that  the Legislature consider                                                               
using a length  of vessel waiver.   The board had quite  a bit of                                                               
discussion on  the drug testing  issue, although,  he emphasized,                                                               
there had  been no evidence of  any drug abuse by  the pilots. In                                                               
general, the board agreed with  the auditor's recommendation as a                                                               
way to come up with a better system of drug testing.                                                                            
MR. DON HABEGER, Royal Caribbean  International, said his company                                                               
supports SB  20 and  has no  opinion one way  or the  other about                                                               
recommendation 4, but  it does on recommendations 1 -  3. He said                                                               
all of  the associations are complying  with the recommendations.                                                               
He indicated that  all of their deck officers are  under a random                                                               
drug-testing program  and he hopes  the pilots are  following the                                                               
same procedures.  He asked the  Legislature to make sure  that is                                                               
"shorn up."                                                                                                                     
MR.  JOE  GELDHOF,  Navy  League of  the  United  States,  Juneau                                                               
Chapter,  said he  was disappointed  that the  interested parties                                                               
hadn't been able  to talk about this issue yet  and he hoped this                                                               
bill could move out of committee. He said:                                                                                      
     The only issue the Navy League of the United States is                                                                     
      interested in is a minor technical cleanup for what                                                                       
      was an unanticipated problem with foreign warships,                                                                       
      specifically AS 08.62.190, which seems to allow for                                                                       
     Canadian ships in a casual trade.                                                                                          
He proposed the following technical amendment:                                                                                  
     'Warships of  foreign nations sailing in  Alaska waters                                                                    
     at the invitation  of the United States  and having one                                                                    
     or  more  United  States   Naval  officers  aboard  the                                                                    
     foreign warship to act as a liaison officer.'                                                                              
He  explained  the  context  of that  language  is  if  Secretary                                                               
Rumsfeld said the  Canadians, the Chileans or  whoever could sail                                                               
in Alaska  and those ships  decide not to  pick up a  pilot; they                                                               
can sail under  their own liability. He said  although there were                                                               
discussions that they  always pick up a pilot,  that's not always                                                               
MR. DOUG  GREASON, Delta Marine Industries,  said several hundred                                                               
of his  company's fishing  vessels fish  in Alaska.  He explained                                                               
that  in the  last dozen  years his  company has  become a  major                                                               
builder of large yachts of the  type under discussion. He knows a                                                               
number  of large  vessel  owners changed  their  plans to  cruise                                                               
Alaska  exclusively as  a result  of their  understanding of  the                                                               
pilotage  requirements. The  main concern  they have  is privacy.                                                               
Money is less of an issue  than just not wanting a strange person                                                               
on the  boat. He  thinks that could  be addressed  by eliminating                                                               
pilotage on vessels up to a certain size.                                                                                       
CAPTAIN DAVE  ANDERS said  he has 20  years experience  on yachts                                                               
and  has  a  1,600-ton  U.S.  license  and  a  3,000-ton  British                                                               
license. Recently, he was on a  151 foot yacht that was traveling                                                               
around the  world that was scheduled  to go to Alaska  in June of                                                               
2001.  The Alaska  portion  of the  trip  was canceled  primarily                                                               
because  of the  owner's desire  for  privacy. He  didn't want  a                                                               
stranger  on board  with his  family and  friends for  the entire                                                               
time they  would have been  in Alaska.  Of the 35  countries they                                                               
previously visited  none had pilotage  requirements that  were as                                                               
stringent as the ones in Alaska.                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE asked if pilots  are required in other locales, but                                                               
just not for the same amount of time that Alaska requires.                                                                      
CAPTAIN ANDERS  said that is  correct. His yacht would  have been                                                               
required to  have a pilot on  board the entire time  they were in                                                               
Alaska waters except  when they were moored to the  land. Even if                                                               
they were  at anchor,  they would  have been  required to  have a                                                               
pilot on board and the  cost would have been approximately $3,000                                                               
per day. While privacy was  the primary reason, being required to                                                               
have a pilot around the clock drove the cost way up.                                                                            
SENATOR FRENCH asked  if he had ever operated  within the British                                                               
Columbia waiver system.                                                                                                         
CAPTAIN ANDERS replied  that he had, but he was  required to have                                                               
a pilot  only while they  were under way  and that cost  $500 per                                                               
SENATOR  FRENCH said  the  system he  was  referring to  requires                                                               
paying a  certain fee and  filling out a questionnaire  about how                                                               
many English  speaking people  are on board  the vessel  and what                                                               
sort of navigation aids they have, etc.                                                                                         
CAPTAIN  ANDERS replied  that  he complied  with  that system  in                                                               
Washington State, which had a 10 to 12 page questionnaire.                                                                      
SENATOR FRENCH  said he was  mistaken in thinking it  was British                                                               
CAPTAIN ANDERS continued  to explain that once he  filled out the                                                               
questionnaire and sent  in a copy of his license,  he was granted                                                               
a waiver, which was totally acceptable from his point of view.                                                                  
MS.  DIANA FABOZZI,  Marsh Product  Client Services,  agreed with                                                               
Captain Anders and  said her company services  650 luxury yachts.                                                               
Her  company works  with only  a handful  of insurance  companies                                                               
that   write  liability   policies  for   luxury  vessels.   When                                                               
underwriting  a  yacht, they  determine  who  the owner  is,  the                                                               
experience of the captain and  crew, the yacht management and the                                                               
loss  records. The  insurance companies  do not  dictate how  the                                                               
vessel should be run; they rely  entirely on the expertise of the                                                               
captain and the crew.                                                                                                           
CHAIR BUNDE  thanked Ms. Fabozzi  for her testimony.  He informed                                                               
members that  he did  not want  to address  short-term amendments                                                               
and he had  a strong indication that the  warship amendment would                                                               
be addressed  in another committee  of referral after it  was run                                                               
through Legislative Legal and Research  Services. In addition, he                                                               
preferred  to take  up the  yacht issue  separately and  not slow                                                               
down the reauthorization of the board.                                                                                          
SENATOR SEEKINS  asked if he was  speaking to SB 20,  Version 23-                                                               
CHAIR BUNDE replied that was correct.                                                                                           
SENATOR SEEKINS made a motion to move SB 20 from committee with                                                                 
individual recommendations.                                                                                                     
CHAIR BUNDE asked for the roll to be called.                                                                                    
Senators Davis, French, Seekins, and Bunde voted in favor and SB                                                                
20 passed from committee.                                                                                                       
CHAIR BUNDE adjourned the meeting at 2:12 p.m.                                                                                  

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