Legislature(1995 - 1996)

01/30/1996 03:03 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 366 - MARINE SAFETY EDUCATION PROGRAMS                                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE said the only bill to be heard today would be HB
 366, which had been in the House HESS committee before.  He asked             
 Representative Austerman, sponsor of HB 366, to address the                   
 committee substitute.                                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE ALAN AUSTERMAN, sponsor, commented he would like his           
 staff person to come forward to explain the committee substitute.             
 Number 144                                                                    
 AMY DAUGHTERY, Staff to Representative Alan Austerman, said that              
 following the last hearing on HB 366, which was before the House              
 HESS Committee, they discovered that only 2,000 people out of the             
 7,000 people trained last year by AMSEA were commercial fishermen.            
 She explained the language "commercial fishermen" was removed from            
 Section 2, subsection (b) because the training benefits more than             
 just commercial fishermen.  It benefits the public at-large,                  
 children, as well as commercial fisherman and they felt it was a              
 mispresentation as to whom is actually trained by AMSEA.                      
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE noted that Representative Brice arrived at 3:05 p.m.           
 Number 225                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY made a motion to adopt Work Draft 9-LS1333\C as the           
 working document.  Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                   
 Number 250                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS referred to subparagraph (b) which                  
 states, "This Act does not create a dedicated fund." and commented            
 he had not seen this language before.  He asked if this was                   
 something new being done with draft legislation.                              
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN answered he wasn't certain, but thought              
 perhaps it was for clarification purposes.                                    
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE commented it was his understanding that in                     
 discussing the fishermen's fund, this language was to clarify that            
 the legislation did not create a new dedicated fund, which is                 
 prohibited by the constitution.                                               
 Number 322                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY thought that was indeed the point:  A                 
 dedicated fund could not be created by the legislature, even if               
 they wanted to.  He has seen a legal opinion that basically stated            
 if the legislature were to start tinkering with existing dedicated            
 funds, funds that were in existence prior to statehood, there was             
 a risk of convoluting or destroying the dedicated nature of those             
 pre-statehood funds.                                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS remarked that Representative Vezey's comments            
 had shed some light on the rationale for the inclusion of the                 
 language, because this program was in existence at the time of                
 Number 380                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN stressed this does not get into the                  
 dedicated fund at all.  It uses the interest only; funds that go              
 into the general fund.                                                        
 Number 425                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG asked Representative Austerman to              
 clarify the existence of a federal statute that required this type            
 of training and that was one of the reasons for this legislation.             
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN answered he was not positive what the                
 federal law was, however, he was aware that national hearings were            
 held in reference to safety at sea and the Coast Guard did come up            
 with regulations that required some safety aspects.  He added he              
 was not sure if there was a federal mandate.                                  
 Number 500                                                                    
 MARK JOHNSON, Chief, Community Health & Emergency Medical Services            
 Section, Division of Public Health, Department of Health & Social             
 Services, testified there is the Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety             
 Act, passed in 1988, which requires safety equipment and training             
 on commercial fishing vessels, depending on where they fish; in               
 other words, the further offshore, the greater the requirements.              
 He added the Coast Guard does have regulations on that.  The                  
 particular training provided by the Alaska Marine Safety Education            
 Association (AMSEA) meets the requirements under the Coast Guard              
 regulations.  He added that the AMSEA training programs address               
 broader groups than just commercial fishers.                                  
 Number 566                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Mr. Johnson to assume the amount of money will           
 grow and to speculate on how it might be used for people using the            
 waters for recreational purposes, people living around the water,             
 et cetera.  He commented on the incredibly high drowning rate and             
 very poor water safety record in Alaska.                                      
 MR. JOHNSON said it was his understanding that Alaska was the only            
 state in the United States that doesn't have a boating safety act.            
 Alaska has the highest drowning rate in the country; it actually              
 competes with motor vehicle crashes as a cause of injury deaths.              
 He commented they have tried to help AMSEA and other agencies with            
 small amounts of temporary grants that run for two, three or four             
 years and then stop.  He thought AMSEA was looking for a more                 
 stable source of funding and added their targets are somewhat                 
 limited depending on their source of funding.  For example,                   
 sometimes their target would be commercial fishing groups because             
 they would get money from the National Institute of Occupational              
 Safety & Health (NIOSH) or National Marines Fisheries, and other              
 times they would target children because their funding source was             
 EMS for children federal funds.  He pointed out there is a wide               
 range of groups of people who need water safety training; rural,              
 recreational, commercial, etc., and AMSEA has tried within their              
 limited funding sources to address all of those groups.  He said              
 AMSEA has a very good reputation in terms of quality and their                
 ability to leverage funds and get a lot of people trained with a              
 small amount of money.  It is their intent to do more training for            
 the recreational community, but they have been limited because of             
 their funding sources.                                                        
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Mr. Johnson if it was his view that AMSEA                
 would be reaching out for more training in the recreational area if           
 more money was available.                                                     
 MR. JOHNSON said that was his understanding.                                  
 Number 700                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN said he wanted to make sure that everyone            
 was aware that Alaska does not have a safe boating act, and this              
 training basically takes the place of that.  He spoke of the                  
 accomplishments of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association             
 over the last 10 years which include marine safety training for               
 40,000 members of the public; 2,500 were fishermen and the rest has           
 been directed toward water safety for the rest of the people in the           
 MR. JOHNSON explained to committee members that a few years ago               
 they looked at the number of people dying in boating and drowning             
 accidents versus other forms of death, such as deaths from motor              
 vehicles.  At that time there was virtually no money, at least from           
 the state, going into this area compared to the amount of money               
 directed toward trying to make our highways safe.  He said the                
 Coast Guard is obviously trying to address this problem, but they             
 are spread very thin and do not have a presence all over the state.           
 In Mr. Johnson's view, AMSEA has done an outstanding job of                   
 reaching out across the state to places where there is no one else            
 addressing the problem and the statistics are beginning to show               
 that it is making a difference.                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN said he had been led to believe the                  
 Governor has placed $80,000 in his budget for this program.  He               
 indicated they would be going before the Finance Committee to fight           
 for the remainder of the money to keep this program solvent.  He              
 believes AMSEA is a good program, it should be continued, and                 
 expanded if at all possible.  Representative Austerman said the               
 money coming into the fishermen's fund, which generates the                   
 interest earnings, is from the fishermen themselves and they have             
 no opposition to using the money for this program.                            
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE encouraged Representative Austerman to fight the               
 good fight and wanted to publicly thank the commercial fishermen              
 for wanting to help public safety.  CO-CHAIR BUNDE closed the                 
 meeting to public testimony.                                                  
 Number 863                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY made a motion to move CSHB 366(HES) from the House            
 HESS committee to the House Transportation Committee with                     
 individual recommendations and zero fiscal note.                              
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked if there was any objection.  Hearing none,               
 CSHB 366(HES) passed out of the House HESS Committee with                     
 individual recommendations and zero fiscal note.                              

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