Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/26/2002 08:05 AM House CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 299-ALASKA PLACE NAMES                                                                                                     
HJR 32-FEDERAL PLACE NAMES                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR    MORGAN   announced    that   the    committee   would                                                               
simultaneously hear  HOUSE BILL  NO. 299,  "An Act  providing for                                                               
the  naming and  renaming of  Alaska geographic  features."   and                                                               
HOUSE  JOINT RESOLUTION  NO. 32,  Encouraging  the United  States                                                               
Board on  Geographic Names to  adopt place name  changes proposed                                                               
by the Alaska Historical Commission.                                                                                            
Number 0105                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  FRED DYSON,  Alaska State  Legislature, testified                                                               
as  the sponsor  of  HB 299  and HJR  32.   Representative  Dyson                                                               
explained  that  the  U.S.  Geological   Survey  (USGS)  and  the                                                               
[Alaska]  Place  Names  Commission  have  the  responsibility  of                                                               
establishing geographical  place names  in Alaska.   Although the                                                               
USGS  takes recommendations  from  the state,  there  has been  a                                                               
long-standing   practice  not   to   change  established   names.                                                               
Representative  Dyson  said  that  he appreciated  that  and  the                                                               
desire  to not  create confusion.    However, many  of the  place                                                               
names   of   Alaska's   geographical  features   are   named   in                                                               
inappropriate ways.   Representative Dyson mentioned  the efforts                                                               
to change  the name of Mt.  McKinley to Denali, which  has led to                                                               
both names appearing on many maps.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON  explained that HB 299  authorizes the state                                                               
agency  to  begin   the  process  for  the   renaming  of  Alaska                                                               
geographical  features for  appropriate Alaska  originating names                                                               
when the agency deems appropriate to  do so.  The resolution, HJR
32, requests  that the  federal government  begin the  process of                                                               
giving  deference  to the  place  names  that come  from  Alaska.                                                               
Representative  Dyson reviewed  many  place names  that could  be                                                               
named more  appropriately.   He informed  the committee  that the                                                               
[Alaska  Place   Names  Commission]  sees  some   very  practical                                                               
problems  in  that  the  commission   doesn't  have  much  staff.                                                               
Without  research  staff,  progress   will  be  difficult.    The                                                               
administration has produced a fiscal  note that reflects the need                                                               
for staff.   "At this  point, I'm  not overly optimistic  that we                                                               
will  get this  project through  the legislature  this year,"  he                                                               
remarked.   Therefore, he requested  that the committee  zero out                                                               
the fiscal note  and adopt an amendment that he  would suggest to                                                               
page 3.                                                                                                                         
Number 0621                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR MEYER  inquired as to  how the committee would  zero out                                                               
the fiscal note.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON  answered that  it merely requires  a motion                                                               
that prevails.                                                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR MEYER pointed  out that there will definitely  be a cost                                                               
for  this.   He related  his understanding  that the  fiscal note                                                               
would fund one-and-a-quarter person.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  DYSON  replied yes.    He  pointed out  that  the                                                               
legislation  doesn't establish  any  deadlines  or timelines  and                                                               
thus he anticipated  that the commission would  begin the process                                                               
of developing its  own criteria for the changing  of place names.                                                               
This  legislation merely  authorizes  [the  commission] to  begin                                                               
this process.  Representative Dyson  explained that currently the                                                               
commission's  business has  been reactive;  never before  has the                                                               
commission been in  the business of changing names.   If there is                                                               
more  than one  name  proposed for  a  geographical feature,  the                                                               
commission acts as a referee.   Again, this merely authorizes the                                                               
commission  to have  this additional  authority  to change  names                                                               
when the agency deems necessary.                                                                                                
Number 0790                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR MEYER  asked if  it would  be possible  to zero  out the                                                               
fiscal note and request that  the federal government pay for this                                                               
through the resolution.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  DYSON   replied  no.    He   clarified  that  the                                                               
resolution  merely  requests  that the  federal  government  give                                                               
deference  to  the state  recommendations.    He reiterated  that                                                               
generally,  the  federal  government  hasn't  been  receptive  to                                                               
changing names on maps.                                                                                                         
CO-CHAIR MEYER turned  to a letter Representative  Dyson wrote to                                                               
the Alaska Historical  Commission that explained the  intent.  He                                                               
asked if  Representative Dyson had  received a response  from the                                                               
Alaska Historical Commission.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  DYSON   noted  that   he  met  with   the  Alaska                                                               
Historical  Commission  during its  recent  annual  meeting.   He                                                               
remarked that  the committee  could view the  fiscal note  as the                                                               
Alaska Historical  Commission's formal response.   He agreed with                                                               
Co-Chair Meyer  that their response  is that they are  willing to                                                               
do  this, but  money is  necessary.   The Native  members of  the                                                               
group, in particular, were excited with having this authority.                                                                  
Number 0935                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SCALZI  related  his understanding  that  if  the                                                               
committee zeroed  out the  fiscal note and  moved the  bill, then                                                               
the committee  would be supporting  something without  funding it                                                               
at this time.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE   DYSON   agreed.     In   further   response   to                                                               
Representative  Scalzi,  Representative  Dyson  agreed  that  the                                                               
commission would consider [all proposed] names.                                                                                 
Number 1073                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  DYSON  turned to  his  amendment,  which read  as                                                               
     Page 3, line 26,                                                                                                           
          Delete "widely"                                                                                                   
     Following "feature"                                                                                                    
          Insert "or by local Alaskan Native people"                                                                            
Number 1211                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  moved the above amendment,  Amendment 1.                                                               
There being no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                              
Number 1239                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA moved  that the  committee zero  out the                                                               
fiscal note, Amendment 2.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO objected.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA explained  that  normally  she would  go                                                               
with the  agency on  a fiscal  note.   However, the  bill doesn't                                                               
require any  overt action.   "In terms  of making a  statement, I                                                               
think  it's a  good idea.   I  think you're  eventually going  to                                                               
have, for  them to  do any  of this  including their  duties they                                                               
already have,  have to  do this.   But this time  I could  buy it                                                               
because  I like  the idea,"  she  explained.   She expressed  her                                                               
desire for this to make it to the floor this session.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO withdrew his objection.                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR MEYER noted his support  of zeroing out the fiscal note,                                                               
but pointed out  that the risk is that [the  commission] won't do                                                               
it.   He said  that he  was willing to  support the  amendment if                                                               
Representative Dyson was willing to take that risk.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON  suspected and hoped that  some local folks,                                                               
Native  Alaskans  in  particular,   will  propose  some  changes.                                                               
Hopefully,  there  will   only  be  a  few   proposals  that  the                                                               
commission  can handle  as  a course  of  their normal  business.                                                               
Representative  Dyson announced  his  intention  to support  more                                                               
staff for the  Alaska Historical Commission and  the naming board                                                               
in the  future.  However, he  didn't believe this is  a good year                                                               
to look  for more money  for something that,  although important,                                                               
isn't vital to the state's business.                                                                                            
Number 1393                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  MEYER  moved  to  report  HB  299  as  amended  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
zero  fiscal  note.   There  being  no  objection, CSHB  299  was                                                               
reported from  the House Community and  Regional Affairs Standing                                                               
CO-CHAIR  MEYER moved  to report  HJR  32 out  of committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations.   There being  no objection,  HJR 32                                                               
was  reported  from  the House  Community  and  Regional  Affairs                                                               
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             
The committee took a brief at-ease from 8:27 a.m. to 8:31 a.m.                                                                  

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