Legislature(2021 - 2022)

2021-03-03 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

2021-03-03                     Senate Journal                      Page 0364
SB 97                                                                                                                         
SENATE BILL NO. 97 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                                                                                
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                                                                           
          "An Act relating to state land; relating to the                                                                       
          authority of the Department of Education and Early                                                                    
          Development to dispose of state land; relating to the                                                                 
          authority of the Department of Transportation and                                                                     
          Public Facilities to dispose of state land; relating to                                                               
          the authority of the Department of Natural Resources                                                                  
          over certain state land; relating to the state land                                                                   
          disposal income fund; relating to the leasing and sale                                                                
          of state land for commercial development; repealing                                                                   
          establishment of recreation rivers and recreation river                                                               
          corridors; and providing for an effective date."                                                                      
was read the first time and referred to the Resources and Finance                                                               
The following fiscal information was published today:                                                                           
 Fiscal Note No. 1, Department of Revenue                                                                                       
 Fiscal Note No. 2, Department of Natural Resources                                                                             
 Fiscal Note No. 3, Department of Education & Early                                                                             
Governor's transmittal letter dated February 26:                                                                                
Dear President Micciche:                                                                                                        
Under the authority of Article III, Section 18, of the Alaska                                                                   
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill clarifying the role of the                                                               
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in managing state lands                                                                   
regardless of the location, allowing for leases of state lands for                                                              
economic or industrial development, and repealing the recreation                                                                
rivers and corridors statutes to allow for greater access to, and use of,                                                       
lands by Alaskans.                                                                                                              

2021-03-03                     Senate Journal                      Page 0365
Alaska is blessed with an abundance of land, with the Statehood Act                                                             
promising 105 million acres held in common for the benefit of the                                                               
people. However, a lack of access to their land deprives the Alaskan                                                            
people of the full benefit of their state’s birthright. This bill affects a                                                     
number of changes to encourage the use of state land for the public                                                             
The bill creates a new statute supporting commercial or industrial                                                              
development of state land situated within federally designated                                                                  
Qualified Opportunity Zones or land nominated and assessed by the                                                               
state as appropriate for commercial development. The statute includes                                                           
a process for requesting proposals from prospective lessees, accepting                                                          
bids, and then entering a contract to lease. This statute allows the                                                            
lessee to apply to purchase the leased land at any time during the term                                                         
of the lease if the department determines the lessee has used the land                                                          
for commercial development consistent with their proposal. The bill                                                             
further clarifies the process of selling state land by requiring bidders to                                                     
submit an earnest money deposit and by increasing the maximum term                                                              
of a land sales contract to 30 years.                                                                                           
The bill expands Department of Education and Early Development                                                                  
(DEED)’s authority to transfer its real property to broader group of                                                            
entities, beyond just the federal agencies, state agencies or state                                                             
political subdivisions allowed under current law. It also amends the                                                            
Department of Transportation and Public Facilities’ (DOTPF) land                                                                
disposal authority, by allowing it to dispose of surplus land no longer                                                         
needed for public works to the Department of Natural Resources, or                                                              
according to terms, standards, and conditions established by the                                                                
DOTPF Commissioner.                                                                                                             
This bill repeals statutes establishing recreation rivers and corridors;                                                        
statutes that have not achieved their intended goal of increasing                                                               
recreational use of Alaska’s waterways and proximal lands. It will                                                              
resolve ongoing challenges in managing these resources, while                                                                   
maintaining and enhancing the public’s ability to access and use them                                                           
and allowing the state to consider disposal of some of them for more                                                            
beneficial uses consistent with the public interest.                                                                            

2021-03-03                     Senate Journal                      Page 0366
Without state laws providing Alaska residents with reasonable                                                                   
opportunities to access, use, or purchase state land for uses consistent                                                        
with our constitution’s mandate for settlement and development, the                                                             
promise of statehood and sovereignty rings hollow. This bill is an                                                              
important step forward in a broad effort to allow Alaskans greater                                                              
access to their lands and to help the state meet its responsibility to                                                          
connect Alaskans more fully with the blessings of their land.                                                                   
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                                                        
Mike Dunleavy