Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/22/1994 08:00 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 513 - GRANTS/LOANS FOR STORAGE TANK OWNERS CHAIRMAN VEZEY opened HB 513, sponsored by the House Labor & Commerce Committee, for discussion. Number 272 JOHN BARNETT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BOARD OF STORAGE TANK ASSISTANTS, supported HB 513. He stated the Board of Storage Tank Assistants is an appeal board that works with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to administer the storage tank assistance fund. This program issues grants and loans to regulated underground storage tank owners throughout the state to help them offset the high cost of environmental compliance. MR. BARNETT outlined the sections of HB 513. Section 1 clarifies the authority of the board to hear all eligibility appeals. Existing statute allows the board to hear appeals on eligible costs, but the board has about 150 applicants that have been determined completely ineligible. He noted several of these applicants feel they were determined ineligible based on an interpretive decision by DEC, based on a policy which may be inconsistent with the original intent of the program. He stated these owners would like a sort of forum, where their concerns could be heard. MR. BARNETT stated Section 2 of HB 513, corrects an oversight in the original bill. The upgrade in closure program under current law does not have a sunset date. Section 2 would provide a sunset clause to the storage tank assistance fund closure and upgrade application period. The sunset would be consistent with the cleanup application deadline. MR. BARNETT stated Section 3 of HB 513, allows upgrade in closure applicants still waiting to be funded, to continue to be eligible for financial assistance for cleanup, after the cleanup deadline passes. He noted they had expected to fund all of the closure and upgrades several years ago; however, at this time over 400 applicants exist that will not discover petroleum contamination until after the cleanup application sunsets. Applicants will be eligible for cleanup as long as they are already on the list. Number 347 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked what would happen if HB 513 did not take effect until October 1, 1994. MR. BARNETT answered the date was originally proposed to be consistent with current law, July 1, 1994. He stated the board would support any amendments to allow for the applicants to be notified. Number 355 CHAIRMAN VEZEY noted a two-thirds vote would be necessary to establish an effective date. Number 358 MR. BARNETT clarified he was referring to Section 2, where the application for assistance must be submitted before July 1, 1994. Number 362 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked how HB 513 clarifies the relationship between the board and the DEC. MR. BARNETT answered the board has applicants who have been denied any financial assistance whatsoever. For example, failure to report a release when, in fact, they had already bought a facility that was already contaminated. Existing statute includes language which refers to being in compliance with existing laws. There is also language which provides for amnesty over a six month period once the applicant has registered their facility. He emphasized DEC sometimes takes a very strict interpretive view of the statutes and regulations. He gave an example of an applicant who, after noncompliance, came into compliance prior to the effective date of the original bill, but was still termed ineligible forever by the DEC. He termed the DEC interpretation as "once a criminal, always a criminal." He felt the board should be able to help mediate the dispute so the objective of cleaning up the sights can be met. The new section clarifies the requirements for a forum would be eligibility in general, not just costs. Number 414 CHAIRMAN VEZEY clarified there was currently no appeal for a DEC decision and the new section would provide for one. MR. BARNETT affirmed CHAIRMAN VEZEY. Number 419 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked if a committee member would move to amend HB 513 whereas the date in Section 2 be amended from "July 1, 1994" to "December 31, 1994." Number 428 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG so moved. Number 433 REPRESENTATIVE ULMER questioned if the change would significantly impact the number of people who have filed applications or impact the business of the board. MR. BARNETT answered the applicants were originally considered when the program began. They had expected to have already funded them, but with the limitations in funding over the past three years they had fallen behind. The change would not provide impact that was not already considered from the original legislation. Number 442 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked the committee secretary to call the roll the amendment to HB 513. IN FAVOR: REPRESENTATIVES VEZEY, KOTT, ULMER, B. DAVIS, G. DAVIS, SANDERS, OLBERG CHAIRMAN VEZEY announced the amendment to HB 513 was adopted. CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked if the dates would have to be adjusted in Section 3. Number 450 MR. BARNETT replied Section 3(a)(1) would have to be adjusted. Number 453 CHAIRMAN VEZEY inquired about the date in Section 3, subsection 2. Number 454 MR. BARNETT responded Section 3, subsection 2, refers to a date currently in statute and is also consistent with the federal Environmental Protection Agency requirement. He stated it should not be changed. Number 457 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked if REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG had a motion to change Section 3, line 9, from "July 1, 1994" to "December 31, 1994." Number 458 REPRESENTATIVE OLBERG so moved. Number 463 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked the committee secretary to call the roll. IN FAVOR: REPRESENTATIVES VEZEY, KOTT, ULMER, B. DAVIS, G. DAVIS, SANDERS, OLBERG CHAIRMAN VEZEY announced the second amendment to HB 513 had been adopted. Number 466 REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS moved to adopt the committee substitute for HB 513 reflecting the amendments made by the committee. CHAIRMAN VEZEY announced, hearing no opposition, the committee substitute for HB 513 had been adopted. Number 485 REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS moved to pass CSHB 513 out of committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. Number 490 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked the committee secretary to call the roll. IN FAVOR: REPRESENTATIVES VEZEY, KOTT, ULMER, B. DAVIS, G. DAVIS, SANDERS, OLBERG. CHAIRMAN VEZEY announced CSHB 513 had passed from the House State Affairs Committee. ADJOURNMENT CHAIRMAN VEZEY, having no more business before the committee, adjourned the meeting at 8:30 a.m.