Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/30/1998 02:12 PM Senate TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE April 30, 1998 2:12 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Gary Wilken, Vice Chair Senator Lyda Green Senator Rick Halford Senator Georgianna Lincoln MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Jerry Ward, Chairman COMMITTEE CALENDAR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 361(TRA) am "An Act relating to private maintenance of state highways." - MOVED SCSCSHB 361(TRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 343(TRA) "An Act excluding certain motor vehicles from the definition of commercial motor vehicle." - MOVED SCSCSHB 343(TRA)OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 386(FIN) "An Act relating to the financing authority, programs, operations, and projects of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD AND HELD HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 67 Relating to renewal of the bilateral aviation agreement concerning the mandatory Anchorage stopover for Russian carriers on transpacific routes between the Russian Far East and the United States. - HEARD AND HELD HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 63 Relating to support for Mitchell Field Adak airport. - HEARD AND HELD PREVIOUS SENATE ACTION HB 361 - No previous Senate committee action. HB 343 - No previous Senate committee action. HB 386 - See Transportation minutes dated 4/28/98. HJR 67 - No previous Senate committee action. HJR 62 - No previous Senate committee action. WITNESS REGISTER Representative Beverly Masek Alaska State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 361 Dennis Poshard Special Assistant Department of Transportation and Public Facilities 3132 Channel Drive Juneau, Alaska 99801-7898 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports HB 361 Barbara Huff-Tuckness Teamsters Local 959 520 E 34th Anchorage, Alaska 99503 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed to HB 343 John Walsh City of Whittier P.O. Box 240952 Douglas, Alaska 99824 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports and described the Whittier Access Project Keith Laufer AIDEA 480 West Tudor Anchorage, Alaska 99503 POSITION STATEMENT: Stated he was available to answer questions Katelyn Markley AIDEA 480 West Tudor Anchorage, Alaska 99503 POSITION STATEMENT: Stated she was available to answer questions Irene Shields Legislative Aide to Representative Williams Alaska State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified for the sponsor of HJR 67 Rhonda Thompson POSITION STATEMENT: Supports HJR 67 Bryce Edgmon Legislative Aide to Representative Moses Alaska State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99081-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified for sponsor of HJR 63 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 98-10, SIDE A VICE-CHAIR WILKEN called the Senate Transportation Committee meeting to order at 2:12 p.m. and recognized the absence of Senator Ward. Present were Senators Green, Lincoln, Halford and Vice-Chair Wilken. The first order of business before the committee was HB 361. CSHB 361(TRA) am - PRIVATE MAINTENANCE OF STATE HIGHWAY SENATOR GREEN moved to adopt SCSCSHB 361(HES), version B, as the working document before the committee. There being no objection, the motion carried. REPRESENTATIVE BEVERLY MASEK, sponsor of HB 361, gave the following overview of the measure. HB 361 was introduced to resolve a conflict over private maintenance of state owned highways. Currently it is difficult at best for the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOTPF) to deal with private parties that undertake the maintenance of state highways where the state has ceased maintenance operations during winter months. HB 361 is not intended to keep private parties from maintaining state highways; the purpose is to ensure that the proper tools are in place so that maintenance conforms to standards necessary to protect the public. HB 361 gives DOTPF clear statutory authority to regulate such activities. This bill was prompted by an incident in the Mat-Su/Petersville Road area. A mining company began plowing the road and the residents in the area complained that not enough snow was left on the highway for snow machine use so that people could get to their cabins. The mining company was plowing the road down to gravel, and a lodge owner began blocking the plows. HB 361 applies to state highways, not state roads. Number 105 SENATOR HALFORD questioned whether this bill might work the wrong way. The language provides for two lanes of travel, and if two lanes are not feasible, pull outs at regular intervals to aid the flow of traffic, and for parking areas at regular intervals to allow public access to public lands adjacent to the highway. He thought Representative Masek's goal was to provide multiple- vehicular access. He noted if a road is plowed two-lanes wide, there will be no room to run a snowmachine. If only one lane is plowed, then snowmachines will be able to use the road. REPRESENTATIVE MASEK thought Senator Halford was referring to the Denali Highway. She stated the plowing on the Petersville Road was done in such a manner that all of the snow was removed. She believed DOTPF would view each road differently. SENATOR HALFORD maintained the language in the bill says, "shall, to the maximum extent feasible, provide for two lanes of travel, and if two lanes are not available, pull outs at regular intervals...." He suggested the bill not specify two lanes of travel because leaving snow on one lane would resolve the problem. He repeated his suggestion that the language allow for multiple vehicular access, rather than require two lanes of travel. Number 154 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK indicated language on line 6 says, "or, if two lanes are not feasible, pull outs at regular intervals to aid the flow of two-way traffic." She maintained the bill does not require that two lanes be kept open. SENATOR HALFORD felt the word "feasible" would be interpreted to view the situation from an economic standpoint. He repeated the intent of the new section could be accomplished by removing the provision for two lanes of travel or pullouts, and instead provide for multiple vehicle-type access. He added the bill should not allow huge berms to be built. REPRESENTATIVE MASEK noted berms are a problem on the Petersville Road because of the snow conditions. She said she understood Senator Halford's point, but could not imagine problems would occur if the road was not plowed down to gravel. VICE-CHAIR WILKEN asked Senator Halford to present a proposed amendment to Representative Masek for later consideration. Number 196 DENNIS POSHARD, Special Assistant at DOTPF, stated the department supports HB 361 as it encourages anyone willing to maintain a section of a state highway to do so. This bill would only apply to roads that DOTPF has chosen not to maintain during the winter. DOTPF requested the bill be amended in a House committee to require written approval from DOTPF prior to maintenance, so that DOTPF can keep track of what activities are taking place. VICE-CHAIR WILKEN asked Mr. Poshard to comment on Senator Halford's suggestion. MR. POSHARD did not think DOTPF would have a problem with the intent of Senator Halford's suggestion but without seeing the specific language he could not state DOTPF support or opposition. SENATOR LINCOLN stated her concern about the bill is that she does not want DOTPF to use this legislation to stop maintenance operations on certain roads during winter months. MR. POSHARD said he appreciates Senator Lincoln's concern, and assured her DOTPF does not view this legislation as an excuse to stop road maintenance. DOTPF views this legislation as an option to use on roads that are not currently maintained during the winter. SENATOR GREEN asked if a current prohibition exists against private maintenance of state highways. MR. POSHARD replied he did not know the answer to that question. He believed problems have occurred with private maintenance in that state roads not plowed to a standard DOTPF considers to be acceptable have created a safety risk for travelers expecting better road conditions. SENATOR GREEN asked, if she lived at the end of a road that was not maintained in the winter, and her only goal was to get from the maintained road to her home, whether she would have to plow to a standard comparable to DOTPF's if HB 361 passes. MR. POSHARD answered that would not be the case if she was merely traveling the road for her own purpose. DOTPF would not limit anyone's personal use of a state road. Nu9mber 261 SENATOR GREEN asked how personal use maintenance would differ. She asked if she plowed a state highway during a snow storm so that she could get home, whether different maintenance standards would apply. MR. POSHARD said he was not aware of any. SENATOR HALFORD noted the House version required written approval from DOTPF before maintenance could occur but that provision is not included in version B. MR. POSHARD indicated DOTPF requested that written approval be required because it wanted to know what maintenance was taking place on state roads to ensure that damage was not occurring and that maintenance was done to an adequate standard. REPRESENTATIVE MASEK stated she was not opposed to the conceptual changes requested by Senator Halford. SENATOR HALFORD moved to delete line 7 and line 8 to the word "allow" and to insert, after the words "provide for" on line 6, the language "multiple type vehicle access to allow public access to public lands adjacent to the state highway." He noted private and public lands are assumed. SENATOR LINCOLN objected to the motion and asked for clarification of what that change will do. SENATOR HALFORD indicated the problem will not be resolved by plowing some of the roads two lanes wide. People who want to maintain a road do not want to be in a position to only be able to do so if they plow the road two lanes wide. If a person plowed with a CAT, a tunnel would be created in high drift areas. He stated it is his intention to give DOTPF the ability to require that berms be knocked down every 300 feet so that people can get in and out, or that the road not be plowed all of the way down to gravel, or to come up with a plan that will allow several types of vehicles to use the road. SENATOR LINCOLN removed her objection. There being no further discussion, the motion carried. SENATOR LINCOLN stated without any notification to, or approval from, DOTPF, anyone can maintain a state highway in any way they want and will not be liable for any damage or injury to users of the road. She questioned the intent of the legislation if it allows the general public to plow any state highway in any way they want if the state does not maintain the road. Number 346 SENATOR HALFORD did not think the bill provides for immunity from liability either for damages or from a third party suit. The bill does maintain that the state is not liable for the actions of another person. It will not prohibit liability for the private person doing the maintenance if the road is damaged or a third party sues for injury. MR. POSHARD agreed and added the House Transportation Committee voted against a proposed amendment that would have exempted the party responsible for maintaining the road from liability. SENATOR HALFORD noted the road closure would be posted. REPRESENTATIVE MASEK respectfully asked committee members to pass the bill out of committee. SENATOR HALFORD moved SCSCSHB 361(TRA) out of committee with individual recommendations and its accompanying fiscal notes. SENATOR LINCOLN objected because she believed DOTPF should be notified of, and approve, private maintenance. SENATOR HALFORD pointed out the status quo is no oversight on the part of DOTPF. The motion carried with Senators Halford, Wilken, and Green voting in favor, and Senator Lincoln voting against. CSHB 343(TRA) - DEFINITION OF COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS, sponsor of HB 343, explained the bill exempts an operator of a commercial vehicle, who is relocating the vehicle from the principal place of business to a job site within a 150 mile radius, from the commercial driver's license requirement. Federal law does not require operators of off road vehicles, not being used for a transportation purpose, to have a commercial driver's license; Representative Davis believed this provision was inadvertently omitted from state statute. The focus of the bill is narrow as it only applies to operators of loaders, motor graders, paving machines, and any vehicle over 16,000 pounds. SENATOR HALFORD agreed with Representative Davis' purpose, but questioned how HB 343 will apply to a company that contracts to pave an unconnected road more than 150 miles away, such as the Naknek-King Salmon Road. He also asked if DOTPF supports the bill. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said DOTPF supports the bill. SENATOR HALFORD asked if DOTPF would support the bill without the 150 mile radius limit or with that limit if connected by road. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS thought Senator Halford's point about remote sites was well taken and should be given consideration. He discussed another scenario that would not be covered by HB 343, in which a company might barge equipment to Seward from Southeast and then transport the equipment by road. He repeated this bill is very narrow in its focus. Number 436 SENATOR HALFORD asked what DOTPF's position has been, and what the federal law requires. He questioned whether the owner's principal place of business could be changed to the community where the job site is located. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said the federal regulations used by the state to establish its statute related to requirements for commercial drivers licenses. The federal law required that commercial drivers license regulations address the issue of an operator's job function rather than job title. SENATOR HALFORD moved to change the phrase "owner's principal place of business" to "owner's principal job office" to specify the office of a particular project. SENATOR GREEN suggested leaving the existing language as is but adding the words, "or project office." Number 472 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS stated his agreement with the proposed amendment. VICE-CHAIR WILKEN noted without objection, the proposed amendment was adopted. Number 482 BARBARA HUFF-TUCKNESS, representing Teamsters Local 959, made the following comments in opposition to HB 343 via teleconference. If HB 343 applied to individuals qualified to drive particular types of equipment over 26,000 pounds, the Teamsters would not oppose this bill. The Teamsters' concern is that many of its workers are required to possess a commercial drivers license (CDL) for several purposes. A CDL requires a driver to be trained to operate a particular piece of equipment under certain conditions and to know the permitting process. The fact that HB 343 will not require an operator driving a vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds to have a CDL does not preclude the requirement for a temporary permit in the movement of commercial vehicles on a public highway. Second, the Teamsters Local 959 represents members who load and unload cargo at the Port of Anchorage. Various types of equipment move in and out of the shipyards quickly to enable the barges to get back on the waterways. All Teamsters in that area are required to have a CDL even though there is a public highway between the Sealand and Tote (ph) yards and the ship area. The Teamsters believe that operator standards should be required for safety reasons because a lot of public traffic will be using that area. Current regulation allows for "incidental" movement without a CDL, which has been interpreted by the Teamsters to mean crossing a public roadway by happen chance but not actually putting a vehicle right in the midst of a public roadway. MS. HUFF-TUCKNESS repeated that operators need to meet certain standards in order to ensure the protection of the public. Number 552 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS advised that most of the Teamsters' concerns have been taken care of. Regarding operations around ports, federal regulations indicate that the exclusions in HB 343 are not allowable when commercial vehicles are moved in the furtherance of a transportation purpose, therefore operators of large loaders unloading cargo from ships would not be exempted from the CDL requirement. He suggested if HB 343 is amended to include the same transportation purpose, a definition will need to be included. Representative Davis explained nothing in HB 343 releases the permitting requirement for over width or overweight vehicles traveling on the highways. Those vehicles will need a permit as well as pilot vehicles and proper flagging equipment. Regarding the safety concerns expressed by Ms. Huff-Tuckness, drivers taking the CDL test drive trucks when being tested, not specialized equipment. No part of the CDL test requires the applicant to show proficiency in operating this type of equipment. The problem of crossing traffic does count: an operator crossing the highway from one gravel pit to another could be stopped by a police officer and ticketed for not having a CDL; HB 343 is intended to correct that situation. The 150 mile limit is arbitrary and was plagiarized from the agricultural vehicle regulations; it was included so that some restrictions would apply. VICE-CHAIR WILKEN asked Ms. Hensley if deleting the 150 mile radius provision will conflict with federal regulations. SENATOR HALFORD thought that question was resolved by adding the job office language. He explained to Ms. Hensley that phrase was added to cover the movement of vehicles barged to remote projects. TAPE 98-10, SIDE B JUANITA HENSLEY, Chief of the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Department of Administration, replied from a safety standpoint, driving special mobile equipment on public highways will create a danger but from a driver licensing standpoint, the provision will not conflict with the federal Driver License Act. She added an applicant for a CDL must meet a minimum age requirement. She noted the 150 mile radius provision also raises safety concerns. SENATOR HALFORD responded his concern was not with the 150 mile limit, it was with the principal office. VICE-CHAIR WILKEN noted by the definition of special mobile equipment under Title 13, one could not drive any of those vehicles very far. SENATOR HALFORD stated the equipment cannot be designed for transportation of passengers or property on a highway, therefore one can assume this equipment cannot be licensed for highway use. MS. HENSLEY indicated the equipment is not safe for regular travel on the roadway because of weight and safety concerns. VICE-CHAIR WILKEN stated page 2 of the sponsor statement contains a list of the kinds of special mobile equipment. Number 558 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS stated the purpose of the permitting process is to address safety concerns to the extent possible. SENATOR HALFORD pointed out three or four bills in the Legislature deal with motor vehicle issues: the definition of commercial motor vehicles; power units; trailers; and weight limitations. Some of the legislation amends other legislation in the process. He questioned whether the order of action on the bills will have the affect of repealing the first bills signed by the Governor. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS replied he ran into that problem when drafting this legislation and attempted to use language in this bill consistent with that used by DMV. SENATOR GREEN clarified that the order in which the bills are transmitted to the Governor is the key to whether the provisions of any of the bills will negate the others. SENATOR HALFORD asked the sponsor to check the other pieces of legislation to determine whether the bill will require a floor amendment. Number 522 SENATOR GREEN moved SCSCSHB 343(TRA) from committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, the motion carried. CSHB 386(FIN) - RE AK INDUS. DEVELOP & EXPORT AUTHORITY SENATOR GREEN moved to adopt SCSCSHB 386(TRA), version K, as the working document before the committee. VICE-CHAIR WILKEN informed committee members the change on page 6 addresses Senator Halford's concerns about access to confidential information. MR. JOE FIELDS stated he was available to answer questions via teleconference. MR. KEITH LAUFER and MS. KATELYN MARKELY of AIDEA noted they were available to answer questions via teleconference. MR. MIKE SCOTT, Mat-Su Borough Manager, stated he was available to answer questions and supports the version of the bill under discussion. Number 491 SENATOR HALFORD expressed concern that version K still provides for confidentiality of credit reports from consumer reporting agencies, and other credit information. He emphasized that when a business applies for money from a government, it should agree to public review of financial information as long as the information is not to be used in an anti-competitive manner. He added the Legislature should be able to access the confidential items listed in the bill, provided legislators swear to keep the information confidential. AIDEA wanted to change the list to delete one of the items he had a concern with, and to add a section allowing legislators access to confidential information. Senator Halford thought both of those changes should be part of the committee substitute. VICE-CHAIR WILKEN informed Mr. Laufer that Senator Halford was suggesting that lines 1 and 2 on page 7 be deleted. KEITH LAUFER, Financial and Legal Affairs Manager for AIDEA, pointed out that a provision allowing legislators to access confidential information was included in the committee substitute in Section D. Regarding credit reports, AIDEA believes that the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act prohibits release of that information, which is covered by item 7. SENATOR HALFORD moved to delete item number 4, on lines 1-2 on page 2, recognizing that part is covered by federal law. There being no objection, the motion carried. VICE-CHAIR WILKEN informed committee members the second change to the bill is the addition of the harbor facilities project for the City of Whittier, beginning at the bottom of page 13. Number 450 JOHN WALSH, a lobbyist for the City of Whittier, made the following comments. The City of Whittier is soon to become a major access point for travel around Prince William Sound. The Whittier access project is nearing completion, and has entailed expanding the train tunnel to accommodate vehicle traffic. Phase 1 of the project is near completion; it will provide for travel from the Portage Visitor Center to Bear Creek. DOTPF has received two bids for Phase 2 which will expand the main tunnel. Phase 3 will include moderate road improvements on the Whittier side to allow access to the marine terminal. As soon as this project is completed, DOTPF anticipates the number of annual visitors to increase to 875,000, and within five years to 1.4 million. Many of the visitors will be Alaska residents who will recreate in Prince William Sound. The moorage capacity at Whittier is about 340 vessels, and there is a current waiting list of over 700. The City of Whittier desperately needs to consider harbor expansion; the inclusion of that project in this bill is a major step in that direction. The committee took a brief at-ease. VICE-CHAIR WILKEN informed participants an attempt was being made to contact Senator Ward. HJR 67 - AIR FLIGHTS RUSSIAN FAR EAST IRENE SHIELDS, staff to Representative Williams, sponsor of HJR 67, read the sponsor statement. HJR 67 urges the U.S. Department of Transportation to negotiate renewal of the bilateral agreement to retain the mandatory stopover in Anchorage for the trans-Pacific flights between the Russian Far East and the U.S. The current bilateral agreement is due to expire in May of 1998. The continuation of mandatory stopovers of Russian air carriers is important to preserve the position of Anchorage as the American gateway to the Russian Far East. Alaska has established agreements with many cities and territories in the Russian Far East to help with their transition into the market based economy. Discontinuation of direct Alaskan air service will severely hamper these efforts. Absent the agreement, Anchorage International Airport could experience an additional decline in international air traffic and local jobs. RHONDA THOMPSON informed committee members that Senator Stevens announced in a press release the previous Friday that the bilateral agreements were being negotiated, that the Russian mandatory stopover was indeed on the table, and that they had successfully negotiated continuation of that route. However, after further discussion, it was learned the bilateral negotiations are ongoing and will conclude in June. Therefore, passage of HJR 67 is imminent. Alaska Airlines will cease operations in the Russian Far East in the event that the mandatory stopover from the Russian side is not retained. VICE-CHAIR announced HJR 67 would be held until a quorum was present. The committee took a brief at-ease. HJR 63 - ADAK AIRPORT BRYCE EDGMON, legislative aide to Representative Carl Moses, sponsor of HJR 63 informed committee members the resolution urges Congress to appropriate funds for the Mitchell Field Adak Airport. The resolution passed the House unanimously. He noted DOTPF has requested that the phrase "to the Adak Reuse Corporation" be deleted for the purpose of consistency, because the money will be appropriated to the State of Alaska for operations and maintenance. VICE-CHAIR WILKEN asked Mr. Edgmon to provide the committee with a committee substitute at its next meeting. The committee took a brief at-ease. VICE-CHAIR WILKEN announced that HB 386, HJR 63, and HJR 67 are pending in committee and that the 24 hour rule is now in effect. He asked participants to await Chairman Ward's direction on movement of the legislation. He then adjourned the meeting.