Legislature(1999 - 2000)
05/14/1999 01:27 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 7-INCREASE LAND GRANT TO UNIV. OF ALASKA CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN announced that the first order of business before the committee would be CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 7(FIN) am, "An Act relating to the University of Alaska and university land, and authorizing the University of Alaska to select additional state land." Number 0095 JANE ANGVIK, Director, Division of Land, Department of Natural Resources, testified via teleconference from Anchorage. She informed the committee that the Administration is opposed to SB 7. This legislation places the university in competition with municipal governments for access to land. There is also concern that the pattern of use for the state lands will be significantly altered as a result of the University Lands Act. Ms. Angvik believed in the full funding of the university and encouraged that, however, this legislation is viewed as an appropriation of state lands and the revenue of those lands directly to the university. She indicated that this legislation would remove the land from the management of the best interest of all Alaskans. This legislation will further complicate land ownership which would increase the difficulties with resource development and public access. She explained that the university has different rules than those required by Title 38. State lands are required to have a public process while the university's policies are unknown. Furthermore, the Board of Regents would establish those policies under which the same public process is not required. Similarly, the university is not required to follow the same intended use of public lands that are described by the area land use plans which have been prepared for the use of state lands. MS. ANGVIK specified that this legislation places the university in competition with municipalities that have not yet finished or need to revise their municipal entitlements. She noted that the Alaska Municipal League (AML) is concerned about this proposal. While this legislation was amended on the Senate floor to provide municipal governments with the first right of refusal on land, the university's pool for land selection is much larger than that of municipal governments. Therefore, the AML has requested that the pool for municipal governments be expanded to include all the lands from which the university can select or limit the university's selection pool to the same as that available to the municipalities. Number 0381 MS. ANGVIK expressed concern that the Division of Lands' capacity to fulfill the municipal entitlements for existing municipalities would be significantly impaired by this bill. She pointed out that one of the major policy effects of this legislation is that should future boroughs try to be established, those municipal governments would be precluded from having access to the best lands which the university is predicted to choose. MS. ANGVIK stressed that although as currently written, the bill would require the university to pay the cost of the selection and conveyance of the lands, the bill will be expensive to administer. She believed that much money would be spent up-front and the university would not accrue revenues for some time. The university would be better served, if the legislature provided direct appropriations for the management of the university as opposed to the appropriation of lands. She believed that the university can select rights-of-way, gravel deposits, and land planned for disposal in order that revenues from those sources would benefit the university rather than the programs of the rest of the state. She indicated that there would be a limiting effect on the ability of the state to sell lands in the immediate future because the lands most likely to be disposed or available for sale by the Division of Lands are the lands most likely to be pursued by the university for selection. Number 0570 MS. ANGVIK noted that at the last meeting, the university testified that it was able to generate $32 million in the time that it has held the land it had transferred compared to the $590,000 generated by the state in the same time period. She pointed out that the vast majority of the university's funds are derived from the timber resources in Yakataga. The state still owns that land, but the university has the right to harvest the timber resources in Yakataga. Furthermore, the university is in a position to have more up-front funding for the development of lands than are general state lands. For example, Ms. Angvik informed the committee that it costs about $4 per acre for the university to manage its land while the Division of Lands operates on a thirty cents per acre management fund. In conclusion, Ms. Angvik encouraged the committee to consider the land development patterns in the state which will compound and conflict with resource development. Ms. Angvik reiterated the Administration's opposition to this legislation. She also noted that similar legislation has been vetoed by Governor Knowles twice before and once before by Governor Egan. MEL KROGSENG, Legislative Assistant to Senator Taylor, Alaska State Legislature, requested that Ms. Redman join her at the table and address the process by which the Board of Regents determines how its land will be managed. She also requested that Ms. Redman discuss how much of the university's land is currently being actively managed. Number 0861 WENDY REDMAN, Vice President, Statewide University of Alaska System, informed the committee that currently the university has 112,000 acres of land and an additional interest in another 85,000 acres. As noted earlier, the university was given the rights to a single cut in the Yakataga region. Of the total land and interest in land of the university, a little over half is currently in active management. She pointed out that the remaining portion, about 80,000 acres, includes about 36,000 acres which are not developable. The remaining 50,000 acres are either very remote or viewed by the university as a long-term investment. MS. KROGSENG reiterated her question regarding the management plan and the public process utilized to develop that plan. MS. REDMAN pointed out that the university's public process is specified in the board's policy. Part of that policy is included in the legislation itself in order to ensure the public process. She acknowledged that the university's public process is slightly different than the state's process. The university's public process is extensive at the local level and the university is subject to the same local laws in terms of development. Ms. Redman clarified her statement from the previous hearing regarding the university's land managment. She said that DNR has not had the staff or the resources to develop the lands of the state, while the university has had those resources necessary for the development of the university's land. All of the development costs are covered by the resources derived from the land, therefore the university does not spend any general funds on its properties. MS. REDMAN explained that she believed transferring land to the university is a good idea because the university is able to develop the land. If the state was able to place the appropriate resources into DNR to develop the lands for the good of all Alaskans, Ms. Redman said she might not believe this to be appropriate. However, that does not look as if it will happen. She viewed this as an alternative allowing a small portion of state land to be given to the university to be placed in active management for the good of the state. MS. KROGSENG reiterated her comments from the previous hearing. If this bill is passed into law, the congressional university lands bill is also likely to pass. The congressional legislation contains a provision for 250,000 acres for the state university system with no strings attached. The congressional legislation also provides an additional 250,000 acres for the university if the state matches that amount with state land which the bill before the committee would satisfy. She utilized a map with an overlay to illustrate that the amount of land being discussed is one-half of one percent of the entire state entitlement. Ms. Krogseng encouraged the committee's support of this legislation. She acknowledged that the university is not going to realize returns for up to three years. The university will probably not have its hands on this land for another four to five years, after which the university will have to develop a plan for the development of the land. This is a long-term plan. CO-CHAIRMAN SANDERS asked if there were any further questions or comments from anyone. There being none, the public testimony was closed. Number 1292 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK moved to report CSSB 7(FIN)am out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes; she asked unanimous consent. REPRESENTATIVE JOULE objected. Upon a roll call vote, Representatives Whitaker, Harris and Masek voted in favor of the motion to report CSSB 7(FIN) am out of committee. Representatives Joule, Morgan, Kapsner and Sanders voted against the motion to report CSSB 7(FIN) am out of committee. Representatives Barnes and Ogan were not present. Therefore, the motion to report CSSB 7(FIN) am out of committee failed with a vote of 4-3. CO-CHAIR SANDERS called an at-ease at 1:44 p.m. and turned the gavel over to Vice Chair Masek. VICE CHAIR MASEK called the meeting back to order at 1:52 p.m., noting that there was a quorum.