Legislature(2001 - 2002)
02/20/2001 01:34 PM TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE February 20, 2001 1:34 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator John Cowdery, Chair Senator Jerry Ward, Vice Chair Senator Robin Taylor Senator Gary Wilken Senator Kim Elton MEMBERS ABSENT None COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 79 "An Act naming the Fred Zharoff Memorial Bridge." MOVED SB 79 OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 79 "An Act designating a portion of the Eagle River Loop Road as the Eagle River Veterans' Memorial Highway." MOVED SCS HB 79 (TRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 59 "An Act relating to awards of federal funds to municipalities for road projects; and providing for an effective date." HEARD AND HELD SENATE BILL NO. 88 "An Act relating to metropolitan planning organizations and to establishment of a metropolitan planning organization for the Anchorage metropolitan area; and providing for an effective date." MOVED SB 88 OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION No previous action. WITNESS REGISTER Senator Alan Austerman Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 79 Mr. Dennis Poshard, Legislative Liaison Department of Transportation & Public Facilities 3132 Channel Dr. Juneau, AK 99801-7898 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 79, SB 59 and SB 88 Mr. Roger Wortman Staff to Representative Pete Kott Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced HB 79 for the sponsor Ms. Mary Jackson Staff to Senator John Torgerson Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced SB 59 Mr. Thomas B. Brigham, Director Division of Statewide Planning Department of Transportation & Public Facilities 3132 Channel Dr. Juneau, AK 99801-7898 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 59 and SB 88 Senator Randy Phillips Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 88 Mr. William Cummings, Assistant Attorney General Department of Law PO Box 110300 Juneau, AK 99811-0300 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 88 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 01-4, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN JOHN COWDERY called the Senate Transportation Committee meeting to order at 1:34 p.m. Present were Senator Ward, Senator Wilken, Senator Elton and Chairman Cowdery. Senator Taylor arrived at 1:46 p.m. Chairman Cowdery announced the first order of business would be SB 79. SB 79-FRED ZHAROFF MEMORIAL BRIDGE SENATOR ALAN AUSTERMAN, sponsor of SB 79, introduced SB 79 by saying that Fred Zharoff had been in the Senate for twelve years and in the House of Representatives for six years. Senator Zharoff's efforts helped bring about the "Bridge to Nowhere" [Near Island Bridge]. The completion of the bridge has led to a number of changes on Near Island, such as the Fishery Industrial Technology Center, a new boat harbor, and the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center. Senator Austerman felt that renaming the bridge after Senator Zharoff would give him the public exposure he deserves. MR. DENNIS POSHARD, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOTPF), said DOTPF supports SB 79. The department has a maintenance budget for installing signs, but the budget has been cut the last six out of seven years and there will be another cut this year. A zero fiscal note has been submitted. SENATOR WARD said he hoped the committee would privatize the maintenance department because it is not spending the money properly. SENATOR ELTON moved SB 79 from committee with the accompanying fiscal note. There being no objection, SB 79 moved from committee. Number 448 HB 79-EAGLE RIVER VETERANS' MEMORIAL HIGHWAY MR. ROGER WORTMAN, staff to Representative Pete Kott, said HB 79 is just one way to honor and recognize the men and women who served and died for our country. Representative Kott's constituents have requested an extension of the Eagle River Loop Road. Therefore, Representative Kott is recommending the Old Glenn Highway through Eagle Road and to the Anchorage Regional Landfill be designated as the Eagle River Veterans' Memorial Highway. SENATOR WARD moved HB 79 (TRA) out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal note and asked for unanimous consent. There being no objection, HB 79 (TRA) moved from committee. Number 581 SB 59-FEDERAL FUNDS TO MUNICIPALITIES FOR ROADS MS. MARY JACKSON, staff to Senator John Torgerson, said the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) is the federal program that provides transportation funds to states. Alaska receives a great deal of this money and has never given any of it as a direct pass-through to municipalities. SB 59 would directly award municipalities, with $20 million being the initial amount. MS. JACKSON said SB 59 establishes a new Municipal Road Project Program (MRPP). The bill authorizes the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOTPF) to develop a project application for municipalities. Municipalities would be required to come up with a match for the federal funds. DOTPF is to develop priorities on how the funds would be dispersed, with the exception that a higher priority would be assigned if a municipality comes forward with an application to take over the maintenance of a state road, reducing maintenance costs for the state. MS. JACKSON noted that boroughs and municipalities have many roads under their jurisdiction, and SB 59 proposes that federal funds be provided to the municipalities. Ms. Jackson commented that DOTPF is concerned that municipalities would not be able to administer the program appropriately. CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked what the administration fees might be. Number 767 MS. JACKSON replied DOTPF would take a percentage for administration costs but she does not know the amount. SENATOR WILKEN asked if money from the federal government comes tagged for certain communities. MS. JACKSON said DOTPF would have to amend the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) and put into it the $20 million that would go to the local municipalities. Municipalities would know the money is there and apply for it. If municipalities are able to match the funds and comply with the federal reporting requirements, they will receive the funds. SENATOR WILKEN asked who will decide where the money goes. MS. JACKSON said DOTPF would establish a process for prioritization. If a municipality is willing to take over a state road and maintain it, that municipality would have top priority. Number 949 SENATOR ELTON asked where the $20 million comes from. MS. JACKSON replied that the money comes from the TEA-21 program. SENATOR ELTON asked if the money comes from a component of TEA-21, such as community transportation, or would it be up to DOTPF to make that determination. MS. JACKSON said it would come from DOTPF. SENATOR ELTON asked who would have liability - the state or the municipality. MS. JACKSON said the local municipality would but this has not been tested. The local government would have to ascribe to the regulations DOTPF develops. The caveat is that if DOTPF develops regulations saying it would do the paperwork and certification, then it would be responsible. SENATOR ELTON gave an example of a Community Transportation Program (CTP) and wondered why this project, in the STIP, would be different from a TEA-21 project. MS. JACKSON said a TEA-21 project gives funds to municipalities for building roads. CTP projects are rated and DOTPF would build the road. SENATOR ELTON asked if the priorities created in SB 59 would affect the existing STIP. MS. JACKSON said she did not think it would affect the STIP because the STIP is not in statute. The STIP is an internal mechanism that DOTPF uses to rate communities depending on whether or not a community would take over maintenance of a road. SB 59 just puts in a new program for municipalities. Number 1140 SENATOR TAYLOR said he would like to give municipalities control over the money they receive. Number 1240 MS. JACKSON said writing this type of priority into statute is difficult - regulations will administer the program. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if it would be possible, within the federal funding mechanism, to establish an entity other than DOTPF to prioritize projects. MS. JACKSON said her sense is there is a lot of discretion with the funds. SENATOR TAYLOR said it is important to him that the communities themselves build the projects. Number 1337 MR. THOMAS BRIGHAM, Director for the Division of Statewide Planning, DOTPF, said DOTPF's concern with SB 59 is of a practical nature based on its experience with locally administered federal projects. MR. BRIGHAM addressed earlier concerns that DOTPF is only funding state or federal projects. According to Mr. Brigham, this is not the case. In 1999 the department funded $49.5 million on roads owned by local governments. DOTPF also funded $45 million in the year 2000 and about the same amount for 2001. DOTPF also has an Improve and Transfer Program whereby if local governments are willing to take over a local road owned by the state, that road is then owned and operated by the local government. This program averages $2.5 to $4.0 million per year. MR. BRIGHAM said DOTPF is working on regulations for STIP. The final draft should be available in early March. MR. BRIGHAM noted in the past DOTPF has passed-through federal funds to boroughs and cities giving them the responsibility to do the project. DOTPF does not have a philosophical problem with local governments doing their own projects, but DOTPF's experience is that the strings attached to the federal funds cause problems for local governments. A Code of Federal Regulations, which governs how highway projects are to be done, comes with the federal money - it is complicated and hard to administer. Because of this, most local governments, especially the small ones, will have a hard time administering federal projects. Overhead would also be substantially greater because there would be overhead for both local and state government. Even the projects earmarked by the federal government have to go through DOTPF. Number 1776 CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked how DOTPF determines the administrative charges. MR. BRIGHAM replied that direct, onsite administration is called construction engineering and is capped at 15 percent. As a percentage of the project, big jobs are less and small jobs are more. Number 1810 SENATOR WARD asked if DOTPF took a percentage of the pass-through money for the port project in Wasilla. MR. BRIGHAM said he did not know but he assumed DOTPF had because one of its employees works full time on the project. SENATOR WARD asked if the percentage is taken at the beginning of a project and if it is always 15 percent. MR. BRIGHAM said if it is a local project, DOTPF does not charge 15 percent. If it is DOTPF's project, 15 percent is the limit for construction engineering. MR. POSHARD said what is possibly being referred to is the Indirect Cost Allocation Program (ICAP). ICAP is an arrangement with the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). There is a two percent cost on every project that DOTPF takes for ICAP, rather than charging for specific projects. The two percent pays for DOTPF's participation and administration of a project. Even though local governments do the actual work, DOTPF does all of the paperwork, reimbursements, and things of this nature. MR. POSHARD said he would provide the committee with a memorandum from the FHA, which outlines the ICAP program. Number 1953 SENATOR ELTON said that under the program envisioned by SB 59, several things happen: 1) municipalities will have to assume liability either for project failure or regulation violation; 2) municipalities will have to pay a match; 3) in some cases, municipalities would have to take over maintenance; and 4) municipalities would have to deal with the Code of Regulations. Given this, Senator Elton asked if DOTPF anticipated municipalities taking advantage of this type of program. MR. BRIGHAM said there might be a rush in the beginning, but then it would be a case of "once bitten, twice shy." Dealing with the Code of Federal Regulations has not been a pleasant experience for local governments. A state grant is a much different process and much less burdensome, which local governments can handle without much trouble. MR. POSHARD added that it is difficult to determine what difficulties municipalities would be willing to take on. Municipalities that already have projects in the CTP, in this or the next fiscal year, would likely not take advantage of the program because their project is already scheduled for funding. Municipalities that have projects further down the list might want to participate, trying to move their project up. In addition, there are only a handful of municipalities that have the financial ability to match federal funds. SENATOR ELTON asked if the $20 million would be coming from the Community Transportation Program (CTP). Number 2070 MR. BRIGHAM replied yes, this type of project is in community transportation or Trails and Recreational Access for Alaskans (TRAAK) program. SENATOR ELTON asked how large the CTP program is now. MR. BRIGHAM said it is about $120 million. SENATOR ELTON asked what SB 59 does that DOTPF does not now have the capability of doing, or is it just the magnitude of money. MR. POSHARD said that now under the CTP program, if a municipality puts up a local match, additional points are added for a project in the scoring and ranking system, allowing the project to move up higher in the funding process. SB 59 requires a local match to participate. SENATOR ELTON said SB 59 creates a program that only a few municipalities could take advantage of, allowing them to move up the STIP, causing other municipalities to drop down in the STIP. MR. BRIGHAM said this is accurate. SB 59 also takes a piece of the community transportation program and says a certain amount of money has to go to local government for administration of their own project. SENATOR ELTON said before moving SB 59 he would like to know if Juneau has the ability to move up the STIP process thereby forcing other communities down. He sees this as a real problem - giving large communities the ability to push smaller communities down. Number 2182 SENATOR WARD asked if DOTPF's new regulations would accomplish what the sponsor of SB 59 is trying to accomplish. MR. BRIGHAM said the new regulations would not accomplish the same thing. The regulations would take the existing system and put it into regulation. This is something a number of legislators have wanted. SENATOR WARD said the sponsor is also concerned with how municipalities would get on the list and stay on without being passed over. MR. BRIGHAM said projects that score with middle or low scores do not move up very fast or they stay where they are. Higher scoring projects are built. New projects that score well go in line ahead of other projects. SENATOR WARD asked if there had ever been a discussion about creating a road commission that would be independent of DOTPF. MR. BRIGHAM said a bill was introduced three or four years ago but it did not move forward because it created more problems than it would have solved. Number 2289 MR. POSHARD said there are states that use commissions to run their programs and this works fine. A commissioner, director, or CEO runs other state programs and this also works well. Number 2340 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if DOTPF had a position on SB 59. MR. BRIGHAM said DOTPF is concerned about how it would function. SENATOR TAYLOR asked who does the ranking in the STIP process. MR. BRIGHAM replied there are three regional directors - Southeast, Southcentral and Northern, Mr. Boyd Brownfield, Deputy Commissioner, DOTPF, Mr. Brigham, Director, Division of Statewide Planning, DOTPF and Mr. Michael Downing, Director, Division of Statewide Design and Engineering Services, DOTPF. SIDE B SENATOR TAYLOR asked what is done with excess funds and who makes the decision where a project is placed on the STIP. Number 2288 MR. BRIGHAM noted the gross amount of money, over the course of a year that is created by projects coming in under bid is "deobligated" from one project to another. The number is exceeded by the total amount of projects that come in over-bid and projects whose estimates change in the STIP. Mr. Brigham said DOTPF's "overages consistently exceed our underages." MR. POSHARD said DOTPF has a problem with underestimations, not over-estimations. When bids come in higher than projects were estimated DOTPF has to ask for additional legislative authority, or the project has to be put further down the STIP. DOTPF cannot spend money on anything it does not have legislative authority on. Number 2090 SENATOR ELTON asked if DOTPF had a fiscal note for SB 59. MR. POSHARD noted that DOTPF is in the process of developing a fiscal note. SENATOR WILKEN referred back to a statement that Mr. Poshard made in reference to SB 79 concerning cuts in DOTPF's maintenance budget over the last seven years. He referred to a chart that showed DOTPF's maintenance budget had not been cut as much as Mr. Poshard had indicated. He asked Mr. Poshard to look at that and get back to the committee on the discrepancy. SENATOR WARD said he does not believe that "maintenance hasn't been cut to the bone, it's not being done properly." SENATOR TAYLOR asked what the design problem was on the Third Avenue bypass in Ketchikan. MR. BRIGHAN said a portion of the Third Avenue route was in very steep terrain. This area was intended to be bulwarked with an earth retaining wall but it was determined that this would not be successful, from an engineering standpoint, and that a bridge was needed. Number 1877 SENATOR WARD said it was amazing that a designer would be instructed to design a structure for an airport in Alaska without taking into consideration that there might be an earthquake someday. MR. BRIGHAM said the bypass retaining wall design was a professional embarrassment but in the case of the airport, the contract engineer did take into account seismic concerns. The issue was simply an argument between the municipalities as to whether the extent to which those concerns were taken into account was adequate. Number 1815 SENATOR WARD said the municipality felt the state was incompetent. He asked Mr. Brigham to speak with the municipality on this issue and get back to the committee. CHAIRMAN COWDERY said it was his understanding the municipality felt it was getting closer to a solution. MR. POSHARD agreed. CHAIRMAN COWDERY said SB 59 would be held in committee until a fiscal note was furnished. Number 1725 SB 88-METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATIONS SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS, sponsor of SB 88, said SB 88 just adds two voting members to the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS). One of the new members would be a member of the senate who resides in Anchorage and the other would be a member of the house of representatives who also resides in Anchorage. SENATOR PHILLIPS said there was a two-tier step for the AMATS process. AMATS consists of a policy committee and a technical committee. The technical committee goes to the community, takes input, and then makes recommendations to the policy committee. There are five members on the policy committee. Two members are appointed by the governor - commissioner or designee of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and designee from the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOTPF), there are two elected officials who are assembly members, and the Anchorage mayor. SENATOR PHILLIPS said the legislature was expected to put five to ten percent of the monies into AMATS without any say about the process. He said it was frustrating to have a project make it up the AMATS process and the next year see the project go back to the bottom. Senator Phillips felt that having elected officials on AMATS would give the legislature some say in how the priorities are set and how the money is spent. Number 1545 SENATOR ELTON said it may be easier for people to "grab the sleeves of their local government person rather than to grab the sleeve of a state legislator." He said it also seems that a system is being created whereby a legislator from the house and from the senate have "two bites at the apple." They have the legislative bite and then they have the local government bite. Number 1443 SENATOR PHILLIPS said the legislature does approve AMATS projects but it has no say in the priorities. AMATS is a federal program, through regulation, that was set up between the state and federal government, but legislators are the ones who get beat up by their constituents if a project is not there. The AMATS policy committee prioritizes the projects without accountability. Number 1321 SENATOR ELTON said this was not a unique problem, other legislators have the same frustration with the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). He said the fundamental misunderstanding might be that the pressure Senator Phillips has to not make changes is coming from the municipality - the only constraint is that he might not want to go against the wishes of the municipality, although he has every right to do so. SENATOR PHILLIPS said wishes could be conveyed to the AMATS committee but that does not mean they would be heard. SENATOR ELTON said this is also the case with anything that goes before the finance committee. SENATOR PHILLIPS said he would agree if the legislature were not paying anything into AMATS. He said a park and ride program was installed next to the landfill at Eagle River. No one from his community requested this program and yet it passed over another project that had been requested. SENATOR ELTON commented that the argument being used to have legislative representation on spending could also be used for municipal assistance revenue sharing or safe community. He wondered why this would be different than other problems. SENATOR PHILLIPS said no one else in the state has this problem. SENATOR ELTON said other communities felt the same frustration with the STIP. Number 1156 SENATOR TAYLOR said he applauds Senator Phillips for trying to get some rationality back into the process. CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked if there had been any thought of replacing the two non-elected members. SENATOR PHILLIPS said the two state members could not be replaced because of federal regulation. He said he liked the make up of AMATS but believed it needs legislative representation. Number 900 MR. DENNIS POSHARD, Department Of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOTPF), noted that DOTPF and the Anchorage municipality realize there is a high sense of frustration with the AMATS planning process, and DOTPF understands Senator Phillips' frustration. MR. POSHARD said the Anchorage municipality sought a grant from the federal government specifically for the purposes of reviewing transportation planning in the Anchorage area and recommending changes to the AMATS public and planning process. Mr. Poshard had just received a draft of this study and that the study would recommend ways to change the AMATS process. MR. POSHARD commented that it is by design that the legislature not have much say on AMATS' projects. When the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) formed municipal planning organizations it was a negotiated position on how to divvy up the federal funding. Because the federal government did not want to be involved with this process, it came up with the Municipal Planning Organization (MPO). The MPO would be responsible for planning and devising a process on how to spend federal transportation dollars within a municipality. The funds would still have to flow through the state for programming in the STIP, but there would be control on how the funds were spent. This is why the legislature is not heavily involved but there is nothing preventing it from being involved. MR. POCHARD said in the past, staff has dealt with changes in the program and this has been cause for frustration. New rules require that changes now go before either the technical committee or the policy committee. MR. POSHARD said the administration does not support SB 88 mainly because it feels this is a local issue and should be solved at that level. Number 584 SENATOR WARD said tax dollars are being taken out of peoples' pockets to fund projects that are not following a public process. Number 168 SENATOR ELTON asked if the study had recommended changing the membership of the AMATS board. MR. POSHARD said he had not had time to read the study in detail but it did not appear to have a recommendation for adding legislators. The study was focused on communication efforts and the public and planning processes of AMATS. SENATOR ELTON said SB 88 is the second iteration of this legislation, and in the past the municipality has opposed adding legislators. Senator Elton asked if the new assembly and new mayor had been asked for their position on this. MR. POSHARD said he has heard nothing from the current administration or the current assembly. TAPE 01-5, Side A Number 001 SENATOR TAYLOR asked how much money is allocated to AMATS. MR. BRIGHAM said about $30 million in the Community Transportation Program (CTP) and about $6 million in Trails and Recreational Access for Alaskans (TRAAK). SENATOR TAYLOR said that means $36 million is allocated every year by the legislature to the Anchorage area. MR. BRIGHAM said that was correct in terms of the community transportation and TRAAK projects. There are also national highway system projects that go beyond that amount. Some years there are no projects and other years there are several. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the projects, when completed, belong to the state or to Anchorage. MR. BRIGHAM said it depends on the road. There are state roads that function as local roads, but are state owned. There are national highway system routes, such as the Seward Highway, that are state owned, and there are municipal roadways - all three are funded by the AMATS process. SENATOR TAYLOR said that Anchorage gets its local roads paved and rebuilt with federal money and the state pays the match. MR. BRIGHAM said that was correct, but this is also done for projects outside of AMATS. DOTPF funds approximately $45 million of locally owned streets and roads each year. It also pays the match unless the local government has proposed to pay some of the match as a way of getting its project elevated in the process. Number 248 SENATOR PHILLIPS said there are no "local, local" roads that AMATS has taken over. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if part of the federally allocated money was for mass transit. MR. BRIGHAM said that mass transit could be funded as part of the service transportation program. SENATOR ELTON asked if the AMATS money comes from the community transportation program. MR. BRIGHAM responded yes, both CTP and TRAAK. SENATOR ELTON said that half of the CTP funds are being reserved for AMATS projects or for very large municipalities. Number 782 MR. BRIGHAM said SB 59 would not require local match, it would prioritize, giving communities an advantage in the scoring if the local government provided local match. SENATOR ELTON asked if the prioritization could take $20 million out of the CTP. MR. BRIGHAM said that large municipalities with the capability to do the engineering would have an advantage - Anchorage could do a federal aid project. SB 59 would be a way for Anchorage to get more of the CTP money. Number 850 MR. WILLIAM CUMMINGS, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law (DOL), noted that DOL had two observations to make concerning SB 88. First, SB 88 takes AMATS, which is a municipal organization, and turns it into something more akin to "Big Brother" - with the state taking over a local function. This is a policy call to be made, but it is a profound thing to do to a local way of dealing with a problem. Second, there are constitutional concerns about the appointment of legislators to this board. There are strong provisions in the constitution prohibiting dual office holding. SB 88 very likely would violate this provision, which could result in a member of the legislature, who took a seat on the AMATS board, losing his or her seat in the legislature. MR. CUMMINGS said DOL cautions the legislature on SB 88, and a review would certainly say that these two provisions do violate the state constitution. SENATOR WARD said he would like to obtain a written legal opinion. SENATOR TAYLOR moved SB 88 out of committee with individual recommendations. SENATOR ELTON objected and a roll call vote was taken. Senators Taylor, Wilken, Ward and Chairman Cowdery voted "yea." Senator Elton voted "nay." The motion carried, and SB 88 passed out of committee. CHAIRMAN COWDERY noted that there was an error in HB 79. A typographical error was brought to his attention so a committee substitute was drafted to correct it. SENATOR TAYLOR moved that the committee rescind its previous action in adopting HB 79 and supplement it with SCS HB 79(TRA), Utermohle, 22-LS0369\F as the new Senate Transportation Committee substitute. There being no objection, the motion carried. There being no further business to come before the committee, CHAIRMAN COWDERY adjourned the meeting at 3:27 p.m.