Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 124

04/28/2005 08:00 AM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HCR 12 LEG TASK FORCE ON RURAL SUSTAINABILITY TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHCR 12(CRA) Out of Committee
*+ HB 189 COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 189(CRA) Out of Committee
+ SB 142 REGIONAL SCHOOL BD LAND OWNERSHIP TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 189-COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:27:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR OLSON  announced that the  next order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 189,  "An Act  relating to  an extension  for                                                               
review  and   approval  of  revisions   to  the   Alaska  coastal                                                               
management program;  providing for an effective  date by amending                                                               
the effective  date of sec. 45,  ch. 24, SLA 2003;  and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:28:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  THOMAS moved  to adopt  CSHB 189,  Version 24-LS0703\G,                                                               
Bullock,  4/27/05,  as the  working  document.   There  being  no                                                               
objection, Version G was before the committee.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:28:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LOUIE  FLORA, Staff  to Representative  Paul Seaton,  House State                                                               
Affairs  Standing  Committee  (HSTA), Alaska  State  Legislature,                                                               
began by noting  that the House State  Affairs Standing Committee                                                               
[members]  just received  Version  G and  although the  committee                                                               
does have concerns,  it can live with it.   Mr. Flora paraphrased                                                               
from the following written sponsor statement:                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The  Alaska  Coastal  Management Program  (ACMP)  is  a                                                                    
     partnership   between   federal,   state,   and   local                                                                    
     governments  providing state  and  local governments  a                                                                    
     voice in federal  decision making. Alaska is  one of 34                                                                    
     coastal  and Great  Lakes states  and territories  that                                                                    
     utilize this program, a  program that annually channels                                                                    
     millions  of  dollars in  federal  grant  money to  the                                                                    
     states.  The ACMP  has helped guide coastal development                                                                    
     in the state since it was enacted in 1977.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Without  the program  the state  and local  governments                                                                    
     lose their  ability to  control development  on federal                                                                    
     land and the Outer Continental  Shelf.  In addition the                                                                    
     state will lose millions  in federal coastal management                                                                    
     planning money.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     In  2003, [House  Bill] 191  substantially revised  the                                                                    
     state  coastal program.   The  federal Office  of Ocean                                                                    
     and  Coastal Resource  Management  (OCRM) must  approve                                                                    
     the  revised   program.    OCRM  has   determined  that                                                                    
     additional  revisions  are  necessary before  they  can                                                                    
     grant approval.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     The 2003  legislation included  state-imposed deadlines                                                                    
     for  revisions  to  local coastal  programs.    Coastal                                                                    
     Districts  are  attempting   to  follow  the  statutory                                                                    
     directive  to revise  their programs  to  meet the  new                                                                    
     requirements.   However,  OCRM has  identified problems                                                                    
     with the state's guidance  to local districts regarding                                                                    
     the  scope and  content of  their program.   The  state                                                                    
     will  have  to  revise regulatory  guidelines  for  the                                                                    
     local districts before the new  program can be approved                                                                    
     by OCRM.   In  turn, the local  districts will  have to                                                                    
     revise their programs  to meet the new  guidelines.  It                                                                    
     is a waste  of time, money and effort  for districts to                                                                    
     revise  their  plans  before  the  state's  program  is                                                                    
     federally approved and any  necessary changes have been                                                                    
     made.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. FLORA  related his understanding  that Version G  extends the                                                               
program termination date specified in House Bill 191 from 2003.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:31:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  inquired as  to  the  problems the  House                                                               
State Affairs Standing Committee has with Version G.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. FLORA  explained that  HSTA wanted  districts to  have enough                                                               
time to  compose their  plans.  Due  to the  negotiations between                                                               
the state  and the  federal government  regarding the  ACMP there                                                               
was a shifting target throughout  the winter.  Although there was                                                               
a  plan  revision  mandated  in  2003  by  House  Bill  191,  the                                                               
guidelines kept changing.   The HSTA committee wanted  to be sure                                                               
that the  districts would  have a solid  agreement from  which to                                                               
work,  but  Version G  doesn't  specifically  stipulate that  the                                                               
federal government approves the state program.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:32:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR OLSON pointed  out that there are  three more committees                                                               
of  referral for  HB 189.   He  noted his  intent to  forward the                                                               
legislation  from  the  House   Community  and  Regional  Affairs                                                               
Standing Committee.   He related  his belief that  the Department                                                               
of Natural  Resources (DNR) and the  Department of Administration                                                               
will have an opportunity to provide more input.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:33:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  THOMAS related  his understanding  that  the state  and                                                               
federal  governments came  to an  agreement and  [the legislation                                                               
was changed  to allow  communities] six months.   He  related his                                                               
further  understanding that  the  six-month  [extension] was  the                                                               
desire of the communities.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FLORA  agreed,  and  then   suggested  that  perhaps  a  DNR                                                               
representative could  inform the committee  of the status  of the                                                               
negotiations.   He  said he  wasn't clear  that an  agreement had                                                               
been reached.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR   THOMAS  relayed   that  "we"   were  briefed   by  the                                                               
administration that there was an agreement.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:34:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BILL  JEFFRESS,   Director,  Office   of  Project   Management  &                                                               
Permitting,  Department  of  Natural  Resources,  said  that  the                                                               
briefing  from   the  Governor's   Office  was  accurate.     The                                                               
department has  been in negotiations  with OCRM  since September,                                                               
specifically  with  regard  to  the  amendments  to  the  coastal                                                               
program.  An agreement with  the federal government regarding how                                                               
to  obtain  preliminary  approval   of  the  amendment  has  been                                                               
reached.      The   aforementioned  will   trigger   a   National                                                               
Environmental Policy Act of 1969  (NEPA) analysis of the changes.                                                               
Mr.  Jeffress specified  that  the governor  offered  and DNR  is                                                               
working  toward  extending the  submittal  date  for the  coastal                                                               
districts since  there are many  specific issues that need  to be                                                               
communicated  to the  districts.   The administration  supports a                                                               
six-month  extension of  the submittal  date  for the  districts.                                                               
Furthermore,  it's critical  to  extend the  state standards  for                                                               
another six  months.  Without  such an extension, the  ability to                                                               
continue  doing  federal  consistency   is  lost.    Furthermore,                                                               
without these standards there is  a chance that [ACMP] would lose                                                               
its staff and thus even if the  program is approved by the end of                                                               
this year there would be no  staff to implement it.  Mr. Jeffress                                                               
highlighted that  the governor and the  department have committed                                                               
to the sunset  date of existing coastal plans, which  would be 18                                                               
months from  the enactment  of the  revised regulations  that was                                                               
July  1, 2004.    Therefore, this  legislation  would extend  the                                                               
sunset  date  for the  existing  district  plans and  extend  the                                                               
period  during which  the coastal  districts  can submit  revised                                                               
plans to come into compliance with House Bill 191.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:37:31 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TOM LOHMAN,  Attorney at Law, Environmental  Resource Specialist,                                                               
North Slope  Borough, related that the  borough strongly supports                                                               
the extension.  The extension  is necessary for all the districts                                                               
to  properly  address  the  need   to  substantially  revise  the                                                               
district plan.  He informed the  committee that most of the plans                                                               
initially  took three  to four  years  to develop.   The  current                                                               
requirement  is  for  a  complete overhaul  of  the  local  plan.                                                               
Although there has  been some contention that  districts have not                                                               
been working diligently  to revise the plan since  the passage of                                                               
House  Bill 191  in May  2003,  he opined  that's not  true.   He                                                               
reminded the committee that all  legislators should've received a                                                               
letter from  the Alaska  Coastal District  Association explaining                                                               
why the  27 active coastal  districts could not  confidently move                                                               
forward with a revision until earlier  this year.  There is still                                                               
great uncertainty  among the districts  in what they  can address                                                               
in passing local policies under a  revised plan, he opined.  Some                                                               
of  these questions  are significant.   For  instance, the  North                                                               
Slope  Borough has  questions regarding  policies on  subsistence                                                               
and activities  on federal  land and the  OCS federal  waters off                                                               
the North Slope.  At the  end of the plan revision, the districts                                                               
will have less control and  authority over local development than                                                               
under the existing  plan.  Therefore, time to work  with the more                                                               
than  200  coastal  communities represented  by  the  27  coastal                                                               
districts  is  necessary.    He predicted  that  people  will  be                                                               
greatly  upset   that  the  plans   are  being  gutted.     Local                                                               
communities want and need development,  but they want it to occur                                                               
on their  own terms.   Furthermore,  three of  the DNR  staff who                                                               
perform plan reviews and work  with the districts are leaving the                                                               
agency; two of which are leaving in  May and the other at the end                                                               
of the summer.  Mr. Lohman said  that he didn't see how DNR could                                                               
effectively review  27 coastal district  plans if required  to be                                                               
submitted by July  1, 2005, and work on continuing  to revise and                                                               
modify these plans after submittal without an extension.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LOHMAN related  that none  of the  districts like  where the                                                               
administration has  taken the program,  which is so valued  in so                                                               
many communities.   He characterized where  the administration is                                                               
taking  the program  as bad  public policy.   He  relayed to  the                                                               
committee that there  is a rumor that in a  later committee there                                                               
will be an  attempt to place a  sunset date in HB  189.  However,                                                               
it's  entirely unnecessary,  he opined,  because local  residents                                                               
are the best controllers of  development in their communities and                                                               
have been doing a good job  with that.  He characterized the 2003                                                               
legislation as  a solution in  search of  a problem.   Mr. Lohman                                                               
concluded  by  opining that  the  program  is valuable  and  that                                                               
anything that can  be done to return meaningful  local control to                                                               
some extent would be appreciated.   Furthermore, he expressed the                                                               
need to have  more time to explain the new  program to the locals                                                               
and  attempt to  make the  best programs  possible, which  simply                                                               
can't be accomplished under the current deadlines.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:42:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN OSCAR, Program Director,  Cenaliulriit Lake Coastal Resource                                                               
Service   Area  District,   informed  the   committee  that   the                                                               
aforementioned district serves 38  villages, which is the largest                                                               
number  of remote  communities in  the  state.   This program  is                                                               
important  to the  remote communities  in the  state in  order to                                                               
provide  an  avenue  for  participation  in  the  decision-making                                                               
process  and addressing  local concerns.   One  of the  important                                                               
local  concerns is  subsistence  and enforceable  policies.   For                                                               
example, in  Tuluksak there is  an application for mining  in the                                                               
headwaters, which  was of great  concern for the residents.   The                                                               
district  was successful  in  bringing  stakeholders together  to                                                               
discuss  the matter.    He  noted that  the  district  is in  the                                                               
process  of  working  with  other   communities  to  address  the                                                               
Kuskokwim drainage issue.  Mr.  Oscar refuted the allegation that                                                               
these  programs  have  been  dragging   their  feet,  and  turned                                                               
attention  to  an  April  letter  in  which  the  Alaska  Coastal                                                               
District  Association  identified solid  reasons  as  to why  the                                                               
districts  didn't receive  solid  guidance.   The districts  only                                                               
received a  draft of the  proposed regulations back  in February.                                                               
Mr.  Oscar stressed  the need  for an  extension, specifically  a                                                               
one-year extension rather than a  six-month extension because the                                                               
Cenaliulriit district would need more time than others.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:47:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANDREW DEVALPINE, Director, Bristol  Bay Coastal Resource Service                                                               
Area, testified  in support of  the six-month extension  in order                                                               
to  elicit   more  participation   in  the  region.     Obtaining                                                               
meaningful   participation  before   the   current  deadline   is                                                               
virtually out of the question.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:48:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NOEL WOODS,  Matanuska Valley Sportsman,  related that  the local                                                               
administration is  claiming that the existing  coastal management                                                               
plan allows them  to regulate the waters reserved  for public use                                                               
within the  state, such  that these areas  are closed  to various                                                               
activities  and at  certain times.   However,  there has  been no                                                               
definitive explanation  for the  aforementioned.  He  related his                                                               
assumption  that  this  will  take  some  time  to  resolve,  and                                                               
therefore he said he would appreciate an extension.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:50:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  commented  that   he  trusts  Mr.  Woods'                                                               
judgment on this matter.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:50:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR OLSON, upon  determining no one else  wished to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:50:52 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  moved to  report  CSHB  189, Version  24-                                                               
LS0703\G,  Bullock, 4/27/05,  out  of  committee with  individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no  objection,   CSHB  189(CRA)  was  reported   from  the  House                                                               
Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                

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