Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/19/1998 01:35 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
           SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE                                     
                    March 19, 1998                                             
                      1:35 p.m.                                                
                                                                               
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                
                                                                               
Senator Jerry Ward, Chairman                                                   
Senator Gary Wilken, Vice Chair                                                
Senator Lyda Green                                                             
Senator Rick Halford                                                           
                                                                               
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                 
                                                                               
Senator Georgianna Lincoln                                                     
                                                                               
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                             
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 263                                                            
"An Act relating to secondary roads; and providing for an effective            
date."                                                                         
                                                                               
     - MOVED CSSB 263(TRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                    
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 264                                                            
"An Act relating to aid for municipal road maintenance; and                    
providing for an effective date."                                              
                                                                               
     - MOVED CSSB 264(TRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                    
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 304                                                            
"An Act relating to regulation of highways and motor vehicles; and             
providing for an effective date."                                              
                                                                               
     - MOVED CSSB 304(TRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                    
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 314                                                            
"An Act relating to the Alaska marine highway system and to                    
municipal feeder vessel authorities."                                          
                                                                               
     - MOVED SB 314 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                           
                                                                               
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 231(FIN)                                                 
"An Act relating to regulation of snowmobiles."                                
                                                                               
     - MOVED CSHB 231(FIN) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                    
                                                                               
PREVIOUS SENATE ACTION                                                         
                                                                               
SB 263 - See Transportation minutes dated 2/19/98.                             
                                                                               
SB 264 - See Transportation minutes dated 2/19/98.                             
                                                                               
SB 304 - See Transportation minutes dated 2/24/98.                             
                                                                               
SB 314 - No previous action to record.                                         
                                                                               
HB 231 - No previous action to record.                                         
                                                                               
WITNESS REGISTER                                                               
                                                                               
Ms. Mary Jackson, Staff to Senator John Torgerson                              
State Capitol                                                                  
Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information on CSSB 263(TRA),                   
                          CSSB 264(TRA) & SB 314                               
                                                                               
Senator Dave Donley                                                            
State Capitol                                                                  
Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Prime Sponsor of SB 264                                 
                                                                               
Representative Beverly Masek                                                   
State Capitol                                                                  
Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Prime Sponsor of HB 231                                 
                                                                               
Eddie Grasser, Staff to Representative Masek                                   
State Capitol                                                                  
Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information on CSHB 231(FIN)                    
                                                                               
Max Lowe, President                                                            
Alaska Snowmobile Representatives Alliance                                     
4800 Spenard RD                                                                
Anchorage, AK 99517                                                            
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of CSHB 231(FIN)                   
                                                                               
Kevin Hite                                                                     
Alaska State Snowmobile Association                                            
850 Summerset DR                                                               
Anchorage, AK 99518                                                            
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of CSHB 231(FIN)                   
                                                                               
Michael Eastham                                                                
Snomad Snowmachine Club                                                        
Box 3646                                                                       
Homer, AK 99603                                                                
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of CSHB 231(FIN)                   
                                                                               
Bill Eastham                                                                   
HCO3 Box 8286                                                                  
Palmer, AK 99645                                                               
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of CSHB 231(FIN)                   
                                                                               
James Day                                                                      
Arctic Cat                                                                     
3074 Commercial DR                                                             
Anchorage, AK 99501                                                            
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of CSHB 231(FIN)                   
                                                                               
Jay Dulany, Director                                                           
Division of Motor Vehicles                                                     
Department of Administration                                                   
5700 E. Tudor RD                                                               
Anchorage, AK 99507-1225                                                       
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information on CSHB 231(FIN)                    
                                                                               
Jim Stratton, Director                                                         
Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation                                         
Department of Natural Resources                                                
3601 C St., Suite 1200                                                         
Anchorage, AK 99503-5921                                                       
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to questions on CSHB 231(FIN)                 
                                                                               
Tim Borgstrom                                                                  
Anchorage Economic Development Corporation                                     
550 W. 7th Ave.                                                                
Anchorage, AK 99507                                                            
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports CSHB 231(FIN)                                  
                                                                               
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                               
                                                                               
TAPE 98-5, SIDE A                                                              
Number 001                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WARD called the Senate Transportation Committee meeting to            
order at 1:35 p.m., and noted the presence of Senators Wilken,                 
Green and Ward.                                                                
                                                                               
                     SB 263 - SECONDARY ROADS                                  
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WARD brought SB 263 before the committee as the first                 
order of business, and requested a motion on the adoption of a                 
proposed CSSB 263(TRA).                                                        
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN moved the adoption of CSSB 263(TRA), version "E," and            
there being no objection, CHAIRMAN WARD stated the motion carried.             
                                                                               
Number 027                                                                     
                                                                               
MARY JACKSON, staff to Senator John Torgerson who is prime sponsor             
of SB 263, related that Senator Torgerson's  office has worked with            
Senator Green's office on the committee substitute and that Senator            
Torgerson has no objection to the committee substitute.                        
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WARD asked for the pleasure of the committee.                         
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN moved CSSB 263(TRA) and the accompanying fiscal note             
be passed out of committee with individual recommendations.                    
Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                       
                                                                               
Number                                                                         
           SB 264 - AID FOR MUNICIPAL ROAD MAINTENANCE                         
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WARD brought SB 264 before the committee as the next order            
of business.  He directed attention to a proposed CSSB 264(TRA).               
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN moved the adoption of CSSB 264(TRA), and hearing no              
objection, it was so ordered.                                                  
                                                                               
MARY JACKSON, staff to Senator John Torgerson who is prime sponsor             
of SB 264, said Senator Torgerson's office and Senator Green's                 
office worked together on the changes in the committee substitute,             
and that Senator Torgerson is in support of the committee                      
substitute.                                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WARD asked for the pleasure of the committee on CSSB
264(TRA).                                                                      
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN moved CSSB 264(TRA) and the accompanying fiscal note             
be passed out of committee with individual recommendations.                    
Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                       
                                                                               
                                                                               
           SB 304 - REGULATION OF MOTOR VEHICLES & HWYS                        
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WARD introduced SB 304 as the next order of business.  He             
directed attention to a proposed Transportation CS and requested a             
motion for its adoption.                                                       
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN moved CSSB 304(TRA), version "P," be adopted, and                
hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                       
                                                                               
SENATOR DAVE DONLEY, prime sponsor of SB 304, said the proposed                
committee substitute addresses some of the concerns that were                  
identified at the committee's previous hearing of the legislation.             
He then outlined the following changes made in the committee                   
substitute:                                                                    
                                                                               
1)  It deletes the language regarding the 55 - 65 miles per hour               
issues;                                                                        
                                                                               
2)  It adds an up to $50 fine for failure to stay out of the far               
left lane which addresses a concern about the possibility of the               
Supreme Court setting a bail amount up to $300 as an infraction;               
and                                                                            
                                                                               
3)  On page 2, line 2, "road conditions" was added to the list of              
justifiable reasons for driving in the far left lane.                          
                                                                               
There being no further testimony or comments, CHAIRMAN WARD asked              
for the pleasure of the committee on CSSB 304(TRA).                            
                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN moved CSSB 304(TRA) and the accompanying fiscal note            
be passed out of committee with individual recommendations.                    
Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                       
                                                                               
                                                                               
           SB 314 - MUNICIPAL FEEDER VESSEL AUTHORITIES                        
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WARD brought SB 314 before the committee as the next order            
of business.                                                                   
                                                                               
MARY JACKSON, staff to Senator John Torgerson who is the prime                 
sponsor of SB 314, explained the legislation establishes a program             
for feeder vessels for municipalities.  She directed attention to              
a sponsor statement and analysis in the members' packets, and                  
stated she would respond to questions on the legislation.                      
                                                                               
Number 129                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WARD noted that the sponsor statement makes reference to              
the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities' failure to             
adopt its own reports, and he asked what portions of those reports             
it refuses to adopt.  MS. JACKSON responded that she did not bring             
a copy of the report to the meeting, but that she would get a copy             
to the Chairman.                                                               
                                                                               
Number 138                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN said the legislation establishes an authority that              
uses federal funds for feeder lines to feed the main routes, and he            
wondered if businesses like Alan Marine would have benefit of that             
money.  MS. JACKSON answered that the program is established it                
would be run by municipalities, and she assumed that a municipality            
could contract with a private entity to perform those services.                
The point of the program is to provide feeder vessel service off of            
the main lines and to get the state of Alaska out from the                     
expensive ferry program.  The alternative is that there could                  
probably be five smaller ferries for the $70 million one large one.            
She suggested that besides funds from the ISTEA program, it is                 
possible that economic development funds could be used in areas                
that are currently disadvantaged by economics.                                 
                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN concluded that it is not the intent of the                      
legislation to set up a advantageous position of the Marine Highway            
System in relation to a private industry.  MS. JACKSON agreed,                 
saying that was not Senator Torgerson's intent.                                
                                                                               
Number 178                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN referred to the liability section on page 3, and                 
asked for an explanation of that section.  MS. JACKSON clarified               
that it is language that is contained in Title 29 as it pertains to            
municipalities and municipal entities that are separate from the               
municipal government.  Those entities are suable, but the                      
municipality is not.                                                           
                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN asked if this would be sort of a mini STIP process              
where the money would come from somewhere into DOT which would then            
process grants that would be awarded under this legislation.  MS.              
JACKSON acknowledged that it would, but she pointed out that the               
STIP procedures expand, multiply and divide in any given year.                 
                                                                               
Number 230                                                                     
                                                                               
There being no further testimony on SB 314, CHAIRMAN WARD asked for            
the pleasure of the committee.                                                 
                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN moved SB 314 and the accompanying zero fiscal note              
be passed out of committee with individual recommendations.                    
Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                       
                                                                               
                                                                               
            CSHB 231(FIN) - REGULATION OF SNOWMOBILES                          
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WARD brought CSHB 231(FIN) before the committee as the                
final order of business and stated the committee would take                    
testimony from witnesses waiting to testify over the legislative               
teleconference network.                                                        
                                                                               
MAX LOWE, President of the Alaska Snowmobile Representatives                   
Alliance (ASRA), testifying from Anchorage in support CSHB
231(FIN), said the alliance feels it is the proper funding                     
mechanism for construction and improvement of trails, trail signage            
maintenance, etc., in the state of Alaska.  He said there are great            
safety implications for snowmobiling in the bill, and it has the               
support of the majority of recreational users and clubs.                       
                                                                               
Number 268                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR HALFORD questioned what the envisioned fee would be for                
registering a snowmobile at the time of purchase.  MR. LOWE replied            
that there is currently a $5  per year fee which has to be renewed             
every two years.  He noted that in eleven western states, the fees             
range anywhere from $15 to $26 per year.                                       
                                                                               
SENATOR HALFORD asked the status of municipal taxation on these                
vehicles.  MR. LOWE responded that there is none at this time.                 
Although it was on the property tax roles of the municipality at               
one time, it was exempted along with boats, aircrafts, etc.                    
SENATOR HALFORD said his only concern is that we not create a very             
attractive vehicle for municipalities to jump on to and people end             
up paying $50 or $75 on a new machine per year.  MR. LOWE agreed               
that it is a possibility, but he expressed the need  to move this              
legislation ahead and get some trails funding because that could be            
a possibility at any time.                                                     
                                                                               
Number 295                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN WARD announced the arrival of Representative Masek who is             
the prime sponsor of HB 231.                                                   
                                                                               
KEVIN HITE, representing the Alaska State Snowmobile Association               
and testifying from Anchorage, stated their support for CSHB
231.(FIN).   For years snowmobile clubs have sought this type of               
state mechanism for registration and accounting.  They support the             
legislation in several areas, primarily the accounting of the                  
number of registrations in Alaska for acquiring trail funding, as              
well as the advantages and benefits to owners of this being a theft            
deterrent.                                                                     
                                                                               
MICHAEL EASTHAM, representing the Snomad Snowmachine Club  and                 
testifying from Homer, voiced their total support for the                      
legislation.  They believe it will a big advantage to snowmobile               
owners because it will provide an easier way to register  their                
snowmachines.  He noted a state parks survey has shown that                    
approximately six to eight thousand new snowmobiles are sold                   
annually in Alaska, which, he said, represents a large dollar value            
of revenues being lost to the state.  It is his understanding that             
some snowmobile dealers are opposed to this legislation because of             
the added responsibility of registering newly purchased                        
snowmobiles, but he believes these dealers should have to share the            
burden for the convenience of the new owners.  He has also heard               
that some Native groups and persons living in remote areas are                 
opposed to this, and although it has been law since 1968 that                  
snowmobiles be licensed by owners, he assumes that 10 percent or               
less of those people living in those areas even register their                 
snowmobiles, which is a great loss of revenue to the state.                    
                                                                               
Number 360                                                                     
                                                                               
BILL EASTHAM, testifying from the Mat-Su LIO in support of CSHB
231(FIN), said they need another vehicle for snowmachine users to              
be able to register their snowmachines besides standing in line at             
the Division of Motor Vehicles.                                                
                                                                               
SENATOR HALFORD wondered if any of the people testifying would                 
object if the legislation had a provision in it that said it                   
wouldn't be used as the basis of establishing a municipal                      
snowmobile property  tax.                                                      
                                                                               
EDDIE GRASSER, staff to Representative Masek, said it is not the               
intent of this legislation to assist the boroughs or                           
municipalities  in assessing a property tax.  REPRESENTATIVE MASEK             
added that perhaps Senator Halford's concern could be addressed in             
a separate piece of legislation.                                               
                                                                               
Number 428                                                                     
                                                                               
JAMES DAY, representing Arctic Cat and testifying from Anchorage,              
stated support for the legislation because it will provide an                  
accurate account of snowmachine sales in the state, which is very              
important to the manufacturers.  It will also aid police forces in             
all communities in their efforts to find and return stolen                     
snowmachines.                                                                  
                                                                               
Number 446                                                                     
                                                                               
JAY DULANY, Director, Division of Motor Vehicles, Department of                
Administration, testifying from Anchorage, said he would address               
some of the questions raised during the meeting.                               
                                                                               
Relating to a discussion on the fee, Mr. Dulany said the fee  set              
under AS 28.10.421(d)(7) is not affected by this bill, and it is               
currently set at $10 for the biannual period.                                  
                                                                               
He said there is a provision in statute that allows the Division of            
Motor Vehicles to collect taxes on certain vehicles, but this class            
of vehicles is not listed in that table, so for the division to                
collect the tax there would have to be a change in the table made              
by the Legislature.                                                            
                                                                               
Mr. Dulany pointed out that snowmobile registrations can be renewed            
over the Internet or by telephone, so people don't have to go to               
the DMV offices.                                                               
                                                                               
Mr. Dulany also pointed out that it is a common practice for                   
dealerships to charge a fee for processing paperwork.                          
                                                                               
JIM STRATTON, Director, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation,              
testifying from Anchorage, said he was present to respond to                   
questions about the trail use and trail moneys that would come from            
adding increased registrations.                                                
                                                                               
SENATOR HALFORD pointed out that none of this money is dedicated so            
it could be used for non-motorized trail development.  MR. STRATTON            
said they would hope that when the money is authorized for trail               
use that it would come with intent on how it is to be spent.  He               
added that the money the division currently gets from the federal              
government for trails is dedicated specifically for trails and                 
there is formula that allocates that money between motorized and               
non-motorized that they do follow.  He also clarified that fuel tax            
money goes into the general fund and there is no reallocation of               
fuel tax money to the trail program.                                           
                                                                               
Number 506                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN inquired if the state is losing money from the                  
National Trails funds because of the lack of registration of                   
snowmachines.  MR. STRATTON acknowledged that the state is losing              
money because the snowmobile numbers aren't as high as they should             
be.  There are about 12,000 snowmobiles registered in the state of             
Alaska, but it is estimated that up to 80,000 exist.  He said he is            
not sure how much more money the state would get if all of them                
were registered, but that question has been posed to the people who            
administer that grant money.  The division currently gets about                
$165,000 in federal highway money, and he estimated it would be                
about a 15 percent increase.                                                   
                                                                               
TIM BORGSTROM, representing the Anchorage Economic Development                 
Corporation and testifying from Anchorage, said the corporation has            
been looking for ways to promote winter tourism and they have                  
concluded that snowmobile recreation is an increasing and very                 
lucrative industry in roughly 28 states.  Every one of those states            
has a point of sale registration law in place which helps as a                 
funding mechanism for the development of trails to attract tourists            
to the state.                                                                  
                                                                               
Mr. Borgstrom said he has talked to the president of the                       
International Snowmobile Manufacturers Associations and was told               
that it is not just federal highway money that the state is losing             
out on.  The state has lost out on millions of dollars because  of             
not having a point of sale program.                                            
                                                                               
In his closing comments, Mr. Borgstrom related that there have been            
over 80 snowmobiles stolen within the Anchorage bowl this winter.              
With a point of sale registration, snowmobile owners would have to             
register their machines every year, get a new sticker that would be            
easily identifiable at a distance.  He said the legislation                    
provides mechanisms for money, mechanisms for law enforcement, and             
a protection and safety net for snowmobile owners.                             
                                                                               
There being no further witnesses to testify on HB 231, CHAIRMAN                
WARD asked Representative Masek if she had any additional comments.            
                                                                               
Number 554                                                                     
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK said she wanted to make it clear that this is             
not a new fee that is being initiated.  There has been a statutory             
requirement on the books since 1968 for registering snowmobiles;               
however, very few Alaskans have participated in this process and               
HB 231 makes it easier for people who want to purchase snowmachines            
in the future to comply with the requirement.  She pointed out that            
the legislation has a lot of support and she urged the committee's             
support as well.                                                               
                                                                               
SENATOR HALFORD asked Representative Masek if she would object to              
an option that would make it easier for people to re-register their            
machines by providing a longer period of time in between                       
registering the machine at the time of purchase and the renewal                
requirement.  He  suggested  instead of it being $10 for two years,            
it could be $20 for four years.  He said he thinks a lot of the                
objection to registration is just the contact with the bureaucracy.            
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK responded that the legislation provides for a             
mail in system for registration renewal the same as is done with               
motor vehicles.                                                                
                                                                               
TAPE 98-5, SIDE B                                                              
Number 587                                                                     
                                                                               
MR. DULANY added that he didn't see a problem with handling it                 
either way.                                                                    
                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN said most of the comments he has had on this                    
legislation were good with the exception of one dealer who thought             
he didn't want the burden of the additional paperwork.  He asked if            
there was some thought of increasing the $5 yearly fee.                        
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK responded that at this time the $5 fee is                 
adequate.                                                                      
                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN asked how the dealer will get the required signature            
to complete the paperwork if a Fort Yukon resident orders a                    
snowmachine from a Fairbanks dealer.  MR. DULANY replied that it               
could be handled in the same way that occurs now with automobile               
dealers.  When the individual is ordering the snowmachine, he can              
request that the application for the registration be faxed or                  
mailed to him.  Once the application is completed and returned the             
dealership would either register the machine or submit the                     
paperwork to the local DMV office for registration.  He added that             
before the machine can be shipped the chain of title would have to             
be complete.                                                                   
                                                                               
There being no further testimony on HB 231, CHAIRMAN WARD asked for            
the pleasure of the committee.                                                 
                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN moved CSHB 231(FIN) and the accompanying fiscal note            
be passed out of committee with individual recommendations.                    
Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                       
                                                                               
There being no further business to come before the committee, the              
meeting adjourned at 2:22 p.m.                                                 

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