Legislature(2011 - 2012)BARNES 124

02/22/2012 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved Out of Committee
Moved CSHB 252(L&C) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
              HB 301-SUNSET OF BOATING REGULATION                                                                           
3:21:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced  that the first order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  301, "An  Act amending  the termination  date of                                                               
certain statutes  relating to the use,  operation, and regulation                                                               
of  boats, a  uniform state  waterway marking  system, and  civil                                                               
liability for  boat owners;  providing for  an effective  date by                                                               
amending the effective date of secs. 3,  5, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18,                                                               
20, 23, 26,  and 27, ch. 28, SLA 2000,  as amended; and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
3:21:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ALAN  AUSTERMAN, Alaska State  Legislature, stated                                                               
that  he  served in  the  legislature  when the  initial  boating                                                               
safety  bill  sponsored  by  former  Representative  Bill  Hudson                                                               
passed the legislature.  He  offered his belief that this program                                                               
has saved lives.                                                                                                                
3:22:58 PM                                                                                                                    
ASTRID  LIEVANO,  Staff,  Representative Alan  Austerman,  stated                                                               
that the purpose of  HB 301 is to repeal the  sunset dates of the                                                               
Statewide  Borating  Safety  and Education  Program,  which  will                                                               
terminate  on  July 1,  2013.    She  explained that  funding  is                                                               
provided by  the U.S.  Coast Guard.   In  2000, the  state became                                                               
eligible for  funding with passage  of the Alaska  Boating Safety                                                               
Act.   When  the  program was  established  the 21st  Legislature                                                               
cautiously added  two sunset dates.   The first repealed  the act                                                               
in  the event  that the  state  did not  receive the  anticipated                                                               
federal  funds; and  the second  sunsetted the  program by  date.                                                               
Since then, the  legislature has voted three times  to extend the                                                               
program thereby recognizing its merits.   The program has been in                                                               
effect for 12 years, during  which time recreational boaters have                                                               
become better educated and safer  and recreational fatalities are                                                               
in a downward trend.                                                                                                            
MS.  LIEVANO  explained  that fatalities  have  dropped  by  22.1                                                               
percent  and at  least 22  Alaskan children  have survived  water                                                               
emergency thanks, in  part, to a Kids Don't  Float program, which                                                               
dispenses life jacket loaners.   The U.S. Coast Guard life jacket                                                               
wear rate  studies also show increases  in life jacket use.   The                                                               
Alaska  Boating Safety  Program  is funded  entirely  by fees  on                                                               
users,  with a  portion  of funding  derived  from the  Sportfish                                                               
Restoration and  Boating Trust Fund,  and the balance  is derived                                                               
from State of Alaska boat registration receipts.                                                                                
3:25:00 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LIEVANO  reported the federal  funding grant for FY  2012 was                                                               
$913,385  and the  state funding  through the  Division of  Motor                                                               
Vehicles (DMV) has  consistently been $200,000.   She offered her                                                               
belief that Alaska's investment for  boating safety is small when                                                               
compared to the lives saved in Alaska.                                                                                          
3:25:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MIA  COSTELLO,  Alaska State  Legislature,  asked                                                               
whether this  is the program  that provides life jackets  at Sand                                                               
MS. LIEVANO answered yes.                                                                                                       
CHAIR  OLSON reported  life jackets  are also  used on  the Kenai                                                               
River and he has heard they have a positive impact.                                                                             
3:26:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON said  he supports  this bill  100 percent                                                               
and noted the program is very worthwhile.                                                                                       
3:26:50 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT   indicated  the  costs  in   2005  were                                                               
$478,000, but  in 2006 the  costs increased to $787,000,  and now                                                               
the program costs are $1,400,000.   He questioned the increase in                                                               
program costs.                                                                                                                  
MS. LIEVANO asked  for clarification on whether  he was referring                                                               
to the overall costs or why the federal funds have increased.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT  related that  it appears the  costs have                                                               
stayed  constant through  the DMV,  but the  federal funding  has                                                               
nearly doubled since 2005.                                                                                                      
MS. LIEVANO  agreed the  U.S. Coast  Guard's funding  for boating                                                               
safety funding has increased.                                                                                                   
3:28:18 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  said  he  hoped Jeff  Johnson  would  be                                                               
staying on as the DNR officer for  the program.  He stated he has                                                               
had an  opportunity to  work with  him and  Mr. Johnson  brings a                                                               
wealth of institutional knowledge and  energy to the program.  He                                                               
commented that he hopes the  boating safety program will continue                                                               
and Mr.  Johnson also continues  as staff  for this program.   He                                                               
asked for  clarification on any  new functions or areas  would be                                                               
performed with the expansion of the program.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  AUSTERMAN  acknowledged   that  the  program  has                                                               
expanded  and  he  was  unsure   what  is  planned;  however  the                                                               
Department of Natural Resources could respond.                                                                                  
3:30:08 PM                                                                                                                    
JEFF  JOHNSON,  Boating  Law  Administrator,  Office  of  Boating                                                               
Safety,  Division of  Parks &  Outdoor Recreation,  Department of                                                               
Natural Resources (DNR),  in response to a  question, stated that                                                               
this  program's emphasis  is on  changing behavior  and providing                                                               
education in the schools.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked whether  this agency cooperates with                                                               
other agencies.                                                                                                                 
MR. JOHNSON answered  that many other programs were  in effect at                                                               
the  time  their  program was  developed,  including  U.S.  Coast                                                               
Guard, and the  Kids Don't Float Program.  The  Office of Boating                                                               
Safety's  focus has  been on  changing  behavior, in  particular,                                                               
adult  male behavior.   Their  other  focus has  been to  educate                                                               
future boaters through  the school programs.  He  pointed out one                                                               
challenge for injury  prevention is to reach rural  Alaskans.  He                                                               
said that the division saw opportunities  to help and the goal is                                                               
to  maximize   funds  through  cooperation  and   take  the  term                                                               
"partnership" seriously.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  asked  if  this  program  is  unique  to                                                               
MR.  JOHNSON answered  no, that  56 states  and territories  have                                                               
state boating programs  in effect.  In 1987, Alaska  was the only                                                               
state without a  program, even though its fatality  rate has been                                                               
more than  20 times  the national  average.   He pointed  out one                                                               
benefit of coming  into the scene late that Alaska  has been able                                                               
to  benefit  from other  programs.    He  said  is proud  of  the                                                               
effectiveness of the small number  of programs in Alaska and that                                                               
Alaska is making progress.                                                                                                      
3:33:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT   wondered  whether  the   program  will                                                               
continue to  receive federal  funding or if  the funding  will be                                                               
MR. JOHNSON answered that the  funding for the program comes from                                                               
the Sport Fish Restoration and  Boating Trust Fund, which is part                                                               
of  the Highway  Trust Fund,  but it  is a  user-pay user-benefit                                                               
system.   Thus much  of the  revenue is  derived from  fuel taxes                                                               
attributable  to recreational  power  boats and  excise taxes  on                                                               
sport fishing  equipment.   It was designed  as a  user-pay user-                                                               
benefit   system,   which   is  widely   supported   by   boating                                                               
organizations around the country.   He acknowledged that he could                                                               
not predict  what the  Congress will  do in  terms of  any budget                                                               
cuts; however,  he did offer his  belief that this program  has a                                                               
lot of support.   He said it is a direct  benefit to users paying                                                               
into it and is perceived  that way nationally.  Additionally, the                                                               
program  is  a very  small  program  as  compared to  many  other                                                               
programs.   He related his  understanding that the program  has a                                                               
proven track  record.  He offered  his belief the way  to survive                                                               
budget cuts  is to prove the  job being done  is a good job.   He                                                               
also said he thinks staff is doing a good job.                                                                                  
3:35:33 PM                                                                                                                    
BEN ELLIS,  Director, Division of  Parks and  Outdoor Recreation,                                                               
Department of Natural  Resources (DNR), agreed that  funding is a                                                               
concern;  however,  he  anticipates  the  federal  transportation                                                               
funding bill  will go through  and the  program will be  safe for                                                               
the present time.                                                                                                               
3:36:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT agreed  the program  is a  good program.                                                               
He pointed out  that although the military also does  a good job,                                                               
it  has  undergone  funding  issues.     Additionally,  even  the                                                               
educational system  is subject  to budget cuts.   He  offered his                                                               
support the  Boating Safety  Program, but  he cautioned  that the                                                               
federal government is making cuts.                                                                                              
3:37:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRIS OSOWSKI,  Member, Alaska  Boating Safety  Advisory Council,                                                               
stated that the  council meets twice a year with  DNR to evaluate                                                               
the  success of  the  programs.   He  said  he  is familiar  with                                                               
Alaska's waterways  since he has  lived in Alaska since  1970 and                                                               
his  family has  a homestead  that can  only be  accessed by  the                                                               
river system.   He viewed  this program  as one designed  to help                                                               
develop  safe   habits  to  ensure   people  survive.     He  has                                                               
participated as  a volunteer  and has  observed how  this program                                                               
works.   He characterized this program  as a good program  and it                                                               
would be worthwhile  to focus on meeting the  program's goals and                                                               
not have to worry about funding.                                                                                                
3:39:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON asked whether any funding is being used to drown-                                                                   
proof  infants.   He  recalled  that very  young  infants can  be                                                               
taught to develop  a reflex action, such that they  can roll over                                                               
in the  water and keep  their head out so  they can breathe.   He                                                               
related that he has had  personal experience with a family member                                                               
who fell off  a sailboat and survived due to  the specific drown-                                                               
proof training.                                                                                                                 
MR.  OSOWSKI  related  his understanding  that  discussions  have                                                               
focused on floatation  devices, but have not  proceeded with this                                                               
type of  training.   The program's training  has been  limited to                                                               
instilling the  value of wearing  floatation devices  and dangers                                                               
of cold water.  He offered to bring this idea back to the group.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   JOHNSON   welcomed    his   constituent.      He                                                               
characterized him as a "good guy."                                                                                              
3:41:28 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  raised the  issue of funding  the program                                                               
in the  event federal funding  was diminished.   He asked  if the                                                               
Alaska's boating  registration fees are  the same or  higher than                                                               
in other states.                                                                                                                
MR. OSOWSKI offered his belief that  they were in line with other                                                               
state's fees.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER questioned the  amount of fees raised from                                                               
boat registration fees.                                                                                                         
MR. JOHNSON  answered $570,000 is derived  from boat registration                                                               
receipts.    He  said  the  fee for  boat  registrations  is  one                                                               
developed  by  the U.S.  Coast  Guard.    He explained  that  the                                                               
Congressional  budget  office   requires  federal  agencies  must                                                               
charge  no more  than the  cost of  the boat  registration.   The                                                               
figure represents the  cost to register boats in 1998  and so the                                                               
same fee  is still  in place.   He was  unsure, but  thought that                                                               
Alaska's boating  registration fees  are likely among  the lowest                                                               
in the nation.                                                                                                                  
MR. ELLIS  stated that  this bill  relates to  the sunset  of the                                                               
state  requirement;  however,  he  agreed  that  the  state  must                                                               
consider developing  a safety net  in the event that  the federal                                                               
funding  is cut  so  this  important program  can  continue.   He                                                               
mentioned that  swimming doesn't  always help people  survive due                                                               
to the cold water in Alaska.                                                                                                    
3:44:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER recalled the  figure of $578,000 and asked                                                               
whether this is what Alaska receives or generates in fees.                                                                      
MR.  JOHNSON answered  that the  DMV  collects $578,000  annually                                                               
from  boating registration  fees.   He related  that the  program                                                               
receives  a portion  of the  fees collected  and the  DMV uses  a                                                               
portion to cover its administrative costs.                                                                                      
CHAIR  OLSON,  after first  determining  no  one else  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 301.                                                                                     
3:45:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  moved to report  HB 301 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
note.   There being no  objection, HB  301 was reported  from the                                                               
House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                                    
3:45:44 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 3:45 p.m. to 3:48 p.m.                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Feb 22.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB301 ver A.PDF HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 301
HB301 Fiscal Note-DNR-PM-2-17-2012.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 301
HB301 Sponsor Statement.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 301
HB301 Supporting Documents-Alaska's Boating Safety Dollars at Work 12-28-11.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 301
HB301 Supporting Documents-Alaska Boating Safety Program - Funding History.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 301
HB252 Draft Proposed Amendment ver M.2.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB252 Explanation of Draft Proposed Amendment M.2.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB252 Sectional Summary (ver A).pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB252 Sponsor Statement.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB252 Supporting Documents-26 USC 1202.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB252 Supporting Documents-Email Andrew Mitton 2-17-12.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB252 Supporting Documents-Email Brent Fisher 2-17-12.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB252 Supporting Documents-Kauffman Foundation Report Jan 2012.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB252 Supporting Documents-Letter Alaska Chamber 2-2-12.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB252 Supporting Documents-Letter Allan Johnston Support 2-10-12.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB252 Supporting Documents-Letter John Wanamaker 2-15-12.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB252 Supporting Documents-State Positions-AK Chamber.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB252 ver M.PDF HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB300 Fiscal Note-ACS-APP-2-8-2012.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 300
HB300 Fiscal Note-ACS-TRC-2-8-2012.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 300
HB300 Sponsor Statement.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 300
HB300 Supporting Documents-AS 22.35.010 and AS 39.27.020.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 300
HB300 ver A.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 300
HB252 Fiscal Note-DOR-TAX-02-20-12.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 252
HB300 Supporting Document-AK Court System Review of Geographic Differentials.pdf HL&C 2/22/2012 3:15:00 PM
HB 300