Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/29/1994 01:00 PM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  HB 502 - MANDATED MUNICIPAL SERVICES                                         
                                                                               
  Number 486                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARK HANLEY, PRIME SPONSOR OF HB 502,                         
  testified saying, "Basically, what the bill does is says,                    
  `after the effective date of this act, anything that we pass                 
  on to local governments we should fund.'  It's a good                        
  policy, I think, because just like the federal government                    
  keeps mandating things to us and doesn't pass on the                         
  funding, the state has a similar policy of doing it to local                 
  communities and it's easy for us to pass these things on.                    
  There are practical problems with how you actually implement                 
  it and I think it's good to get this discussion going.  As a                 
  general policy, it makes a lot of sense and we've talked to                  
  the municipalities; they're supportive, I believe, of this                   
  thing because they continually see us, whether it's the                      
  senior citizen's property tax exemption, which we originally                 
  funded at 100 percent...and of course, in this year's                        
  budget, we're not funding any of it, but they still have to                  
  provide it...and there's lots of other examples.  I think                    
  that municipalities just want to know that if we're going to                 
  mandate something, we're going to pay for it..."                             
                                                                               
  Number 508                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said, "Having been a former municipal                  
  assembly member, I appreciate the intent of this, but                        
  Representative Hanley indicated that there were some                         
  problems...and one of them that occurs to me is that perhaps                 
  to be able to distinguish between mandates and fundamental                   
  requirements of local government..."                                         
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HANLEY said, "The whole intent of this was to                 
  try and get some debate going and answer some of these                       
  questions...I think some of the municipal people will be                     
  able to address some of that... I would also note with a                     
  statute as this is, it's really appropriation power that's                   
  constitutionally mandated to the legislature so it's a                       
  little bit tough on the enforcement side, even with a                        
  statute in here if we choose not to appropriate something,                   
  it may not get appropriated and there may not be recourse                    
  against the state."                                                          
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked the sponsor "to share your                        
  perspective of the problems that you see."                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HANLEY said, "Initially, folks had approached                 
  me to do a constitutional amendment for this and I was                       
  concerned...if we work through some of the language in the                   
  statute, it's not in the Constitution.  We're not going to                   
  get required to pay for police protection...people are                       
  providing those services.  So with the statute, there is                     
  more flexibility.  That is the problem, trying to define or                  
  think of circumstances in the future where we might choose                   
  to mandate something that we don't want to fund...  It would                 
  be any new laws enacted after this point.."                                  
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS asked, "This just applies to                        
  anything in the future?"                                                     
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HANLEY replied, "It is intended to start from                 
  this point and go forward with new laws rather than try and                  
  address the incredible number of things that local                           
  communities (do)... It was an attempt to say `from this                      
  point forward, we will debate these issues one by one and                    
  say if we're going to require something then we should fund                  
  it.'"                                                                        
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS said, "The Senior Citizen Property Tax                 
  Exemption:  If, for example, suppose the legislature after                   
  the enactment of this particular law decided to lower the                    
  caps to reduce the funding to this program, would the fact                   
  that we changed the caps then put that amended legislation                   
  under the umbrella of this particular bill"?                                 
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HANLEY said, "It says, `A law enacted that                    
  requires a municipality to perform a new activity or                         
  service' and I would think that would be covered, `or                        
  increase the level of any activity or service.'   So, if you                 
  were lowering the cap, that would I think, be a reduction of                 
  the responsibility..."                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 596                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE pointed out, "Should we suddenly                        
  establish a new city, then how (would) the traditional                       
  services (yet to be provided) fall under this bill"?                         
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HANLEY replied, "If somebody chooses to                       
  incorporate then they come under the current mandates that                   
  are already in the statutes so they would also be required                   
  to fulfill whatever level of service, just like these cities                 
  that are already providing that, that would be the current                   
  law.  It's not based on a new city coming into effect, it's                  
  based on the legislature passing a new law to add something                  
  else to any community...  It's not going to exempt things                    
  that have already happened...it's a problem.  It seemed                      
  easier to force the debate into the future, one by one, as                   
  we passed new laws..."                                                       
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN OLBERG said, "I don't know how it could be any                      
  clearer that we're not going to change anything that's                       
  happened historically.  We're going to act differently after                 
  the effective date of this legislation as far as the state's                 
  relationship with municipalities."                                           
                                                                               
  DANIEL MOORE, CAPITAL BUDGET OFFICER, MUNICIPALITY OF                        
  ANCHORAGE, testified via teleconference in support of HB
  502.  He said, "The municipality, of course, has been                        
  experiencing quite a few mandates, mostly from the federal                   
  level in the past.  There are state mandates...that have                     
  negatively impacted the municipality.  Our primary concern                   
  is...the potential escalation of unfunded state mandates in                  
  the future which would probably be caused as a result of the                 
  state trying to deal with declining revenues...  State                       
  mandates as defined within the language of HB 502                            
  constitutes any law to provide a new activity or service.                    
  We believe that mandates aren't necessarily bad, however,                    
  when they go unfunded or when there's no agreement to                        
  participate in the funding.  We believe the municipality is                  
  forced to give artificially high priority to these mandates.                 
  As a result of having unfunded mandates, there's an                          
  artificial high priority, takes priority over basic                          
  services.  A municipality must still pay for these out of                    
  increased taxes or, if the funds are not available, services                 
  are then cut.  The municipality believes that as the state                   
  struggles to balance its budget now...the practice of                        
  burdening local governments with unfunded mandates will                      
  increase.  The legislature therefore needs to pass                           
  legislation similar to HB 502 in a timely manner so that                     
  future legislatures will be discouraged from unfairly                        
  burdening local government.  Attached with our testimony is                  
  a list of actual unfunded mandates that have occurred in the                 
  past..."  (A copy of this list may be found in the House                     
  Community and Regional Affairs Committee Room, Capitol Room                  
  126, and after the adjournment of the second session of the                  
  18th Alaska State Legislature, in the Legislative Reference                  
  Library.)                                                                    
                                                                               
  MR. MOORE continued, "HB 502 is designed to have an                          
  effective date for future mandates.  At this time the                        
  municipality would just like to encourage legislatures to                    
  still work on addressing past unfunded mandates, especially                  
  the senior citizen's property tax exemption.  Our position                   
  is either to provide full funding for it or to at least give                 
  the municipalities the option of opting out of the                           
  program...  This particular example of an unfunded state                     
  mandate is the municipalities greatest example of the degree                 
  to which the state has forced local government to provide                    
  funding for mandate... On a final note...there's about four                  
  points that the municipalities' Department of Law has                        
  brought up...  One is being the way we define the word `law'                 
  in the bill...  Another, deals with who with the state would                 
  actually administer this type of law.  And in addition,                      
  there's other issues in terms of how it gets funded from                     
  year to year..."                                                             
                                                                               
  Number 709                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said, "I'm still trying to understand                  
  if we can differentiate between what might be called                         
  fundamental requirements of local government versus mandated                 
  additional requirements that the state government might put                  
  on top of that."                                                             
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-15, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES referred to the list provided by the                   
  Municipality of Anchorage.  (A copy of this list may be                      
  found in the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee                  
  Room, Capitol Room 126, and after the adjournment of the                     
  second session of the 18th Alaska State Legislature, in the                  
  Legislative Reference Library.)  He pointed out, "Equipment                  
  and staff time to monitor chlorine levels in pools:  This                    
  would be public swimming pools and spas...  They don't                       
  require that you operate pools, but they require that if you                 
  operate a pool that you do it in a safe manner.  Can you                     
  comment on that kind of a distinction?  That's kind of a                     
  second order mandate, in my view."                                           
                                                                               
  SCOTT BRAND-ERICKSON, ATTORNEY, MUNICIPALITY OF ANCHORAGE,                   
  testified via teleconference, "Your questions can be                         
  answered in a similar fashion.  Other states have by                         
  constitutional provision or statute, set out limitations on                  
  mandates.  Two examples, Massachusetts and California have                   
  extended programs in the past classifying whether a                          
  particular service is a fundamentally local government                       
  requirement or a new mandate or with the pool example...and                  
  the suggestion that we would have is, we don't actually know                 
  a quick way to answer all of these questions because they                    
  tend to depend upon the facts and the particular service.                    
  Something that California did that we think would be helpful                 
  would be, if there is either by in the statute or by                         
  regulation work by one of the administrative departments                     
  that can set up the rules for deciding what is a new                         
  service, what is an increase in level of service and to                      
  differentiate what is something that the local government is                 
  deciding to do itself."                                                      
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES asked if Mr. Brand-Erickson had the                    
  language from California and for the committee to receive                    
  it.                                                                          
                                                                               
  MR. BRAND-ERICKSON said he would retrieve it for the                         
  committee.                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked, "In line 6 of the bill...how                     
  would that affect cost sharing?  Would you read this to say                  
  the state would, should pay a hundred percent or fifty                       
  percent"?                                                                    
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN OLBERG said, "If the statute says `we'll give you                   
  half the money to do this if you want to' and you choose to                  
  do it, it's no longer a mandate perhaps."                                    
                                                                               
  Number 112                                                                   
                                                                               
  KENT SWISHER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ALASKA MUNICIPAL LEAGUE,                   
  testified in support of HB 502.  He said, "We continue to be                 
  very concerned with this one and appreciative of the                         
  legislation.  Having been party to this kind of debate in                    
  other states and at the national level...I guess I would say                 
  that we would regard HB 502 probably as more of a statement                  
  of legislative policy than a barrier of future enactments...                 
  I think the fact that one would have to go to court to                       
  implement the provisions of HB 502, would tend to militate                   
  against local jurisdictions using it in a frivolous way                      
  because it's not a free procedure...  One thing you might                    
  want to do as a part of strengthening the process, is                        
  strengthen the fiscal note process that you have currently                   
  in place.  Right now that process doesn't kick in until                      
  we're awfully late in the game..."                                           
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said, "I take it what you're                           
  suggesting here is that somehow the fiscal note process                      
  would explicitly be required to take note of fiscal impacts                  
  on the municipalities."                                                      
                                                                               
  MR. SWISHER confirmed this.                                                  
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN OLBERG suggested a process in which municipalities                  
  could submit fiscal notes.                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said, "I wonder if Mr. Swisher might                   
  comment on what I call the second order mandate.  The                        
  situation where the state might require a municipality when                  
  they engage in some optional activity, like operating a                      
  swimming pool, that they operate it safely...  Those things                  
  certainly mandate some costs on your part...but that's                       
  something you decide when you choose to operate the pool.                    
  Could a distinction like that be made that would eliminate                   
  that class of thing from this bill"?                                         
                                                                               
  MR. SWISHER said, "That would take some work with the                        
  language.  I think probably it could be.  At least in my                     
  mind there exists a fairly clear distinction between such                    
  things as the capital matching grant program which might                     
  require a mandate, a match from us only if we choose to                      
  participate in it.  So we don't consider it a mandate.  Then                 
  there are a series of things that get further and further                    
  away from clarity...  I think that the impracticality of                     
  pursuing compensation for a relatively minor mandate and one                 
  that normal people might think is probably part of what we                   
  ought to do anyway would be difficult, expensive and                         
  unsuccessful."                                                               
                                                                               
  Number 244                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said, "I can offer perhaps a more                      
  expensive second order mandate:  The operation of a                          
  municipal landfill.  The state regulations on that can be                    
  fairly expensive and yet they can be equally important to                    
  public health."                                                              
                                                                               
  MR. SWISHER concurred and said, "In some part in that we are                 
  into what I would call a pass through mandate because often                  
  we're dealing with mandates from the federal government                      
  which the state is mandatorily implementing.  I would think                  
  that we could find some language that...would do that, the                   
  kind of things you're thinking about..."                                     
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN OLBERG reminded the committee, "I think the key                     
  element is that we don't have to address anything we're                      
  already doing, but we would certainly have to craft statutes                 
  more carefully in the future to take all of these things                     
  into consideration and there would have to be some way to                    
  address federal mandates..."                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 280                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES asked, "That's the question: ...Under                  
  this bill, would we be required to pick up the cost of                       
  federal mandates that are supposed to be passed through to                   
  municipalities."                                                             
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN OLBERG said, "Under the wording of this bill,                       
  probably, I'd say, yes..."                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said, "It seems to me that we might be                 
  able to address this issue by trying to define what I would                  
  call... a fundamental mandate, or clear mandate and what I                   
  would call a second order mandate...  Perhaps we could                       
  define two categories of mandate and the law could require                   
  that we place any new law in one of those two categories and                 
  that would force the debate on whether this was an unfunded                  
  mandate...or some other category..."                                         
                                                                               
  Number 320                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN OLBERG offered to reschedule HB 502 for "next week"                 
  so the committee could "reflect" on the bill.                                
                                                                               
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN OLBERG adjourned the meeting at 2:12 p.m.                           

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