Legislature(2019 - 2020)ADAMS 519

03/02/2020 09:00 AM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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<Bill Hearing Canceled>
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       March 2, 2020                                                                                            
                         9:04 a.m.                                                                                              
9:04:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Johnston called the House Finance Committee                                                                            
meeting to order at 9:04 a.m.                                                                                                   
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Jennifer Johnston, Co-Chair                                                                                      
Representative Dan Ortiz, Vice-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Ben Carpenter                                                                                                    
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Gary Knopp                                                                                                       
Representative Kelly Merrick (via teleconference)                                                                               
Representative Cathy Tilton                                                                                                     
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Bart LeBon                                                                                                       
Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard                                                                                         
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Sara  Perman,  Staff,  Representative  Louise  Stutes;  Matt                                                                    
Walker,  State Traffic  and Safety  Engineer, Department  of                                                                    
Transportation and Public  Facilities; Representative Laddie                                                                    
Shaw,  Sponsor; Josh  Walton,  Staff, Representative  Laddie                                                                    
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Katrina Hoffman, irene Webber's Daughter-In-Law, Cordova                                                                        
HB 186    NAMING IRENE WEBBER BRIDGE                                                                                            
          HB 186 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
HB 223    NAMING VIETNAM HELI. PILOTS' MEM. BRIDGE                                                                              
          HB 223 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Johnston reviewed  the meeting  agenda. She  noted                                                                    
that two bills had been removed from the agenda.                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 186                                                                                                            
     "An Act naming the irene Webber Bridge."                                                                                   
9:05:20 AM                                                                                                                    
SARA   PERMAN,   STAFF,    REPRESENTATIVE   LOUISE   STUTES,                                                                    
introduced herself and provided  an explanation of the bill.                                                                    
The  three  line  bill renamed  an  unidentified  bridge  in                                                                    
Cordova, formally known by  the Department of Transportation                                                                    
and  Public Facilities  (DOT) as  Bridge 406,  Scott Glacier                                                                    
Number 6,  to the irene  Webber Bridge. irene  Webber passed                                                                    
away  in  2018,  and  the   bridge  would  serve  to  remind                                                                    
Cordovans of the legacy she left behind.                                                                                        
Ms. Perman provided detail about  irene Webber. Irene was an                                                                    
Alutiq  woman. She  was born  in Ellemar,  Alaska and  later                                                                    
moved to  Cordova where she  raised her family. She  and her                                                                    
husband  and  three  children ran  a  seining  operation  in                                                                    
Prince  William Sound.  She elaborated  that Ms.  Webber was                                                                    
remembered as a runner who began  running as an adult and as                                                                    
her daughter  Kim [Aspelund] put it,  "running empowered and                                                                    
invigorated  her."  In  pursuing  her  passion,  Ms.  Webber                                                                    
founded the  Cordova Running  Club and  was integral  to the                                                                    
foundation  of  many running  events.  She  is perhaps  best                                                                    
remembered as being  the founder and the sole  runner of the                                                                    
first  Cordova Salmon  Run marathon  in 1986.  She expounded                                                                    
that  33 years  later, the  run expanded  to five  different                                                                    
races      the  King  Salmon  Marathon,   the  Sockeye  Half                                                                    
Marathon, Coho  10K, Humpy  5K and the  Smooth One  Mile Fun                                                                    
Run. She highlighted  that over 300 people  attend the races                                                                    
annually from around the world.                                                                                                 
Ms.  Perman  continued  to  provide  background  information                                                                    
about irene Webber. In addition  to her work with the Alaska                                                                    
Salmon Runs,  Ms. Webber also  was integral in  creating the                                                                    
Cancer 2x2  Walks in  2002. The event  has raised  more than                                                                    
$100,000   for  Cordovans   seeking   cancer  treatment   or                                                                    
screenings. Ms.  Webber was also  involved in  several other                                                                    
philanthropic   efforts  such   as  supporting   St.  Jude's                                                                    
Children's Hospital and the American Cancer Society.                                                                            
Ms.  Perman  provided  several anecdotes  about  Ms.  Webber                                                                    
shared by  her daughter Kim.  She detailed that on  the boat                                                                    
everyone knew that "Dad may be  the captain, but mom was the                                                                    
admiral." She  elaborated that participation in  the run had                                                                    
started declining,  but Ms.  Webber started  making homemade                                                                    
clam chowder  and the  attendance soared.  She was  known in                                                                    
Cordova as grandma  irene. She noted that  irene was spelled                                                                    
with a lowercase "i."                                                                                                           
Ms. Perman detailed that the  bridge was located at 9.5 mile                                                                    
on the road between Cordova  and its airport. The bridge was                                                                    
used by  runners during the  marathon and half  marathon; it                                                                    
was also near  a recreation area used  by families. Members'                                                                    
packets included  two resolutions  from the City  of Cordova                                                                    
and the Native  Village of Eyak in support of  the bill. The                                                                    
bill  had a  $9,680  fiscal note  from  DOT associated  with                                                                    
materials costs  including signage, posts,  and installation                                                                    
materials such as sonotubes and concrete.                                                                                       
Co-Chair  Johnston  OPENED  public  testimony.  She  relayed                                                                    
there   was  a   representative  from   DOT  available   for                                                                    
9:10:02 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
9:10:11 AM                                                                                                                    
KATRINA  HOFFMAN, IRENE  WEBBER'S  DAUGHTER IN-LAW,  CORDOVA                                                                    
(via  teleconference), provided  prepared remarks  about her                                                                    
mother-in-law irene:                                                                                                            
     Thanks  for  allowing  me the  opportunity  to  provide                                                                    
     testimony on  behalf of our  family. irene  spelled her                                                                    
     name with a little "i"  and she had a diminutive figure                                                                    
     but    there    was    nothing   little    about    her                                                                    
     accomplishments.  She  was  raised in  the  village  of                                                                    
     Ellemar,  near  Tatitlek.  She  moved  to  Cordova  and                                                                    
     raised  a family  of three  children with  her lifelong                                                                    
     love   Bill   Webber   Sr,  which   resulted   in   ten                                                                    
     grandchildren  and  many  great grandchildren,  all  of                                                                    
     whom either  live in  Alaska or have  deep ties  to it.                                                                    
     irene  was a  businesswoman, a  good neighbor,  a great                                                                    
     sourdough cook,  and a doting grandmother.  She was the                                                                    
     admiral  on  the   family  fishing  vessel,  overseeing                                                                    
     multiple generations  of our  family who  together make                                                                    
     their living off commercial salmon fishing.                                                                                
     At  her   memorial  service   one  of   her  grandsons,                                                                    
     Christopher,  said he  knew his  grandmother to  be two                                                                    
     people  -   wonderfully  loving   Grandma  i   and  the                                                                    
     formidable  deck boss  whose word  was law  out on  the                                                                    
     water. As  my sister-in-law  Kim would tell  you, irene                                                                    
     committed  to  a  practice  late  in  life  of  running                                                                    
     marathons, which was especially  important to her after                                                                    
     she  found  her sobriety  and  maintained  it for  many                                                                    
     years. She was  the originator of the  Wild Salmon runs                                                                    
     that are a key feature  of the annual Salmon Jam Summer                                                                    
     Festival here  in Cordova.  That racecourse  starts out                                                                    
     on the  Copper River delta  and heads back to  town. On                                                                    
     that course, if  you run the half  marathon or marathon                                                                    
     you will cross this bridge at mile 9.5.                                                                                    
     When we  learned that this  bridge was available  to be                                                                    
     named,  my husband  and  son  and I  drove  out to  the                                                                    
     location  and just  knew  in our  hearts  this was  the                                                                    
     right bridge  to name after  irene. There  was abundant                                                                    
     fireweed  blowing  [by] the  bridge.  You  look up  the                                                                    
     Scott  River  and can  see  the  Scott Glacier.  People                                                                    
     recreate in the winter on  ice skates and snow machines                                                                    
     up this  river and in the  summer on ATVs and  fat tire                                                                    
     bikes  on  the  trails  that  the  Forest  Service  has                                                                    
     maintained.  Just  beyond  the  bridge  is  the  9-mile                                                                    
     sandpile where families  gather for barbeques, birthday                                                                    
     parties,   water   play,   dune   jumping,   sandcastle                                                                    
     building,  and  it's very  fitting  that  a place  that                                                                    
     brings joy to so many people  would be able to be named                                                                    
     after irene, who brought joy to many people herself.                                                                       
     When irene  would pass you  in town she'd say  "see you                                                                    
     on the road," because people  would pass her driving in                                                                    
     their cars  and she  would be out  there running.  I am                                                                    
     happy  to speak  in favor  of House  Bill 186  with the                                                                    
     support  of  the  Webber family.  We  would  be  deeply                                                                    
     grateful if  you took action  to rename Bridge  406 the                                                                    
     irene Webber Bridge with a little "i."                                                                                     
Co-Chair  Johnston  noted  that Representative  Merrick  was                                                                    
Co-Chair Johnston CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                      
Representative Carpenter asked  DOT to speak to  the cost of                                                                    
the fiscal note.  He had seen many signs on  bridges, and he                                                                    
did  not  know whether  there  was  a standard  installation                                                                    
method. He  wondered if there  was something  specifying the                                                                    
need to  use sonotubes. He  asked if the  only way to  put a                                                                    
sign at the location would cost $9,000.                                                                                         
MATT WALKER,  STATE TRAFFIC AND SAFETY  ENGINEER, DEPARTMENT                                                                    
OF TRANSPORTATION  AND PUBLIC  FACILITIES, answered  that he                                                                    
had not  personally visited  the site and  did not  know the                                                                    
specific site  conditions. He  reported that  sonotubes were                                                                    
regularly used  in the installation of  signs, specifically,                                                                    
signs of the size included  in the fiscal note. He explained                                                                    
the sign  needed to be a  certain size because of  the speed                                                                    
of the road.                                                                                                                    
Representative  Carpenter  asked   how  the  department  had                                                                    
determined the  size and  cost of the  signage. He  asked if                                                                    
someone had  visited the location  or whether  an assumption                                                                    
had been made based on how the process was always done.                                                                         
Mr.  Walker replied  that he  had not  been involved  in the                                                                    
cost breakdown. He  reported that the sign would  need to be                                                                    
retroreflective. Additionally, letters  on the memorial sign                                                                    
needed to be a certain  height, which would dictate the size                                                                    
of the sign.                                                                                                                    
9:16:38 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Knopp asked if  there were currently signs at                                                                    
the  bridge. He  asked  if there  were  sonotubes and  posts                                                                    
currently in place.                                                                                                             
Mr. Walker replied  that he did not know  what was currently                                                                    
on site.                                                                                                                        
Representative Knopp  shared that he had  success in getting                                                                    
a bill passed that renamed a  road. He reported that DOT had                                                                    
submitted fiscal  note of about  $1,900. He  elaborated that                                                                    
after going  through all of  the details, the cost  had been                                                                    
reduced  to  approximately  $350   because  there  had  been                                                                    
existing  posts and  sonotubes.  He reasoned  that if  there                                                                    
were already  existing posts, the  fiscal note seemed  to be                                                                    
over inflated. He supported the  bill but noted the validity                                                                    
of   Representative  Carpenter's   question.  He   discussed                                                                    
various ways signs could be posted.                                                                                             
Co-Chair Johnston  communicated that it would  be helpful to                                                                    
have a follow  up on the fiscal note prior  to the next bill                                                                    
HB  186  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 223                                                                                                            
     "An Act naming the  Vietnam Helicopter Pilots' Memorial                                                                    
9:18:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LADDIE  SHAW,  SPONSOR, addressed  the  bill                                                                    
with prepared remarks:                                                                                                          
     Thank you for  taking the time to hear  House Bill 223,                                                                    
     entitled "An Act naming  the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots'                                                                    
     Memorial Bridge."                                                                                                          
     This is  a topic that is  very close to my  heart, as I                                                                    
     served two tours in Vietnam.                                                                                               
Representative  Shaw shared  a  framed  photograph taken  50                                                                    
years earlier coming back from  an operation in Vietnam. The                                                                    
photograph  showed a  helicopter dropping  off wounded  Navy                                                                    
Seals  and  himself. He  was  honored  to have  Tom  Studler                                                                    
[staff  to Representative  Dave Talerico]  in the  audience,                                                                    
who had  been a Vietnam  helicopter pilot and had  served in                                                                    
the delta at the same time as he had.                                                                                           
Representative  Shaw  relayed  that  he was  honored  to  be                                                                    
invited to be an associate  member of the Vietnam Helicopter                                                                    
Pilots Association as  a Vietnam veteran and  as a certified                                                                    
helicopter pilot. He continued with prepared remarks:                                                                           
     I  should  note   that  this  bill  was   the  idea  of                                                                    
     Representative  Cathy   Tilton.  She   very  graciously                                                                    
     offered to have  me introduce it and  carry it, knowing                                                                    
     my  personal  connection  to   the  subject.  I  really                                                                    
     appreciate her graciousness.                                                                                               
     I would also like to  acknowledge the work on this bill                                                                    
     done by  Representative Tilton's staff,  Heath Hilyard.                                                                    
     Heath did  the bulk  of the legwork  on this  bill, and                                                                    
     his work is greatly appreciated.                                                                                           
     Lastly,  I'd like  to express  my  appreciation of  the                                                                    
     reception this bill has received  so far   particularly                                                                    
     that  every veteran  in the  House signed  on as  a co-                                                                    
     sponsor at introduction. I'm deeply honored by that.                                                                       
     With that,  I'd like to  tell you about  my experience,                                                                    
     and why I'm so glad  to have the opportunity to present                                                                    
     this legislation to you?                                                                                                   
Representative Shaw continued with prepared remarks:                                                                            
     Vietnam  was  called  the Helicopter  War.  During  the                                                                    
     Vietnam War the United  States relied on the helicopter                                                                    
     as  never  before.  The  helicopter's  role  in  combat                                                                    
     expanded enormously  in this  conflict as  thousands of                                                                    
     choppers rapidly  transported personnel  throughout the                                                                    
     warzone. Heavily  armed helicopters offered  a fearsome                                                                    
     component to  ground operations. As close  air support,                                                                    
     mobility and fire power would  be the keys for American                                                                    
     operations in  Vietnam, and the helicopter  provided an                                                                    
     abundance of  both. But the  role of the  helicopter in                                                                    
     support of  activities in the  Vietnam War must  not be                                                                    
     overlooked,  as thousands  of  missions  were flown  to                                                                    
     resupply, reinforce  troops on the ground,  to evacuate                                                                    
     Americans and  South Vietnamese  wounded, and  to offer                                                                    
     countless  other  services  in  pursuance  of  the  war                                                                    
     The UH-1  or better known  as the Huey, was  the symbol                                                                    
     of  the American  war in  Vietnam. Indeed,  the Vietnam                                                                    
     War was the Helicopter War.  As a side note, there were                                                                    
     nearly 12,000  helicopters that flew combat  or support                                                                    
     missions in  Vietnam. Over 5,000 were  destroyed. There                                                                    
     was  a helicopter  casualty rate  of 45  percent. There                                                                    
     are 58,000 names  on the wall in Vietnam;  8 percent of                                                                    
     those are  helicopter pilots  and crew.  Forty thousand                                                                    
     helo  pilots served  in Vietnam.  I'm  honored to  have                                                                    
     flown  with  them  and  I  very  much  appreciate  your                                                                    
     support on this bill.                                                                                                      
Representative Shaw asked his  staff to review the specifics                                                                    
of the legislation.                                                                                                             
9:22:21 AM                                                                                                                    
JOSH  WALTON, STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE LADDIE  SHAW, explained                                                                    
that  the bill  would name  bridge numbers  1124 and  1889 -                                                                    
spanning the  Matanuska River  northbound and  southbound at                                                                    
mile  30.4 of  the Glenn  Highway -  the Vietnam  Helicopter                                                                    
Pilots' Memorial Bridge. He noted  there were two bridges in                                                                    
close proximity  to each  other in  the area.  He elaborated                                                                    
that when heading out of  Anchorage towards Mat-Su the first                                                                    
bridge is  the Bondsteel  Bridge, which  the bill  would not                                                                    
change. The bill  pertained to the second  bridge, which was                                                                    
a  bit farther  north and  was currently  unnamed. The  bill                                                                    
would  rename  the  unnamed bridge  the  Vietnam  Helicopter                                                                    
Pilots' Memorial Bridge.                                                                                                        
Mr. Walton noted that members'  packets included photos from                                                                    
Google  Maps  identifying  the  bridges.  He  referenced  an                                                                    
academic  article included  in  members'  packets about  the                                                                    
role helicopters served and how  the helicopter came of age.                                                                    
The  backup  materials  also  included  a  few  contemporary                                                                    
articles  illustrating the  role pilots  served and  some of                                                                    
the   challenges    they   had   encountered    when   their                                                                    
accomplishments had been recognized after the Vietnam War.                                                                      
Mr.  Walton highlighted  that the  bill had  the support  of                                                                    
Lynn Kile,  president of the  Alaska chapter of  the Vietnam                                                                    
Helicopter Pilots Association. He  noted that Mr. Kile would                                                                    
be available  to provide testimony  and answer  questions if                                                                    
requested at  a subsequent hearing  on the bill.  He relayed                                                                    
that  the bill  had received  a letter  of support  from the                                                                    
Department  of Military  and  Veterans Affairs  Commissioner                                                                    
Major General  Torrence Saxe. He  concluded his  remarks and                                                                    
was  available  for  questions  and  offered  to  provide  a                                                                    
sectional analysis if requested.                                                                                                
9:25:37 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Tilton  shared  that  she  was  honored  and                                                                    
appreciative that  Representative Shaw had brought  the bill                                                                    
forward.   She   detailed   that   she   was   a   daughter,                                                                    
granddaughter,  and  wife  of   Vietnam  veterans  and  felt                                                                    
particularly connected  to the legislation. She  shared that                                                                    
the location of  the bridge was suitable  because it spanned                                                                    
where the  largest population of Vietnam  veterans resided -                                                                    
Mat-Su and  Anchorage. She noted  that the  existing Sargant                                                                    
James  Bondsteel Bridge  was significant  because  he was  a                                                                    
Vietnam veteran who had earned a  medal of honor. She read a                                                                    
     There  are brave  Alaskans who  gave  their "last  full                                                                    
     measure of  devotion" flying or serving  on helicopters                                                                    
     during the Vietnam War (source:virtualwall.com):                                                                           
      Chief Warrant Officer  Lloyd  Rainey (Anchorage)                                                                       
        Pilot, age 33                                                                                                           
      Warrant Officer William Duncan (Anchorage)   Pilot,                                                                    
        age 22                                                                                                                  
      Chief Warrant Officer William Walters (Anchorage)                                                                      
        Pilot, age 24                                                                                                           
      Specialist Richard Bauer (Anchorage)  Crew, age 19                                                                     
      Warrant Officer David Lape (Cordova)  Pilot, age 23                                                                    
      Warrant Officer  William  Childers   (Fairbanks)                                                                       
        Pilot, age 21                                                                                                           
      Specialist David Ferry (Fairbanks)  Crew, age 24                                                                       
     Specialist Kurt Int-Hout (Kodiak)  Crew, age 20                                                                         
      Warrant Officer  Frederick  Simeonoff  (Spenard)                                                                       
        Pilot, age 22                                                                                                           
Representative Tilton  elaborated that  the Alaskan  men she                                                                    
had  listed  gave  their  lives  at  very  young  ages.  She                                                                    
believed there was no better way to honor them.                                                                                 
Representative  Carpenter  noted  that there  were  multiple                                                                    
bills  being considered  that would  rename bridges  and the                                                                    
Department  of Transportation  and  Public Facilities  (DOT)                                                                    
had  submitted fiscal  notes with  different price  tags. He                                                                    
requested to  hear why  there was  a cost  disparity between                                                                    
the posting of signs included  in the two bills heard during                                                                    
the meeting.  He noted the  cost of  $9,000 in one  bill and                                                                    
$6,000  in  the  current  bill.   He  did  not  believe  the                                                                    
difference made  sense. He supported  the bill  and believed                                                                    
the bridge naming was well-deserved.                                                                                            
Co-Chair Johnston  asked if  DOT would  like to  address the                                                                    
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
Representative  Carpenter restated  his  question. He  noted                                                                    
that two  bridges were shown  at $6,000 and one  was $9,000.                                                                    
He asked why there was a cost disparity.                                                                                        
MATT WALKER,  STATE TRAFFIC AND SAFETY  ENGINEER, DEPARTMENT                                                                    
OF  TRANSPORTATION  AND  PUBLIC  FACILITIES,  answered  that                                                                    
there  were  two signs  for  both  directions on  the  irene                                                                    
Webber  Bridge and  two  signs for  both  directions on  the                                                                    
Glenn Highway  for the  Vietnam Helicopter  Pilots' Memorial                                                                    
Bridge.  There was  a cost  difference between  the two.  He                                                                    
speculated that  there may be more  information available on                                                                    
the site conditions  on the Glenn Highway  bridge because it                                                                    
was more  easily accessible. He  did not believe  the fiscal                                                                    
notes included  cost for labor  or installation. He  did not                                                                    
know the  precise reason  for the  disparity. He  offered to                                                                    
follow up on the question.                                                                                                      
Representative  Carpenter  requested  a  follow  up  on  the                                                                    
question. He thought  $6,000 to $9,000 for  two signs seemed                                                                    
HB  223  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
Co-Chair  Johnston reviewed  the  agenda  for the  following                                                                    
9:31:54 AM                                                                                                                    
The meeting was adjourned at 9:31 a.m.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 223 DMVA Support Letter 2.11.2020.pdf HFIN 3/2/2020 9:00:00 AM
HB 223
Sponsor Statement HB 186 vM 02.06.2020.pdf HFIN 3/2/2020 9:00:00 AM
HB 186