Legislature(1997 - 1998)
03/19/1998 01:35 PM TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.