Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/20/1996 08:02 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HJR 60 - RS 2477 HIGHWAY RIGHTS OF WAY                                      
 The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs             
 Committee was HJR 60.                                                         
 CHAIR JAMES announced HJR 60 was put forward by the House State               
 Affairs Committee, and called on Walter Wilcox, Legislative                   
 Assistant, House State Affairs Committee, to present the sponsor              
 Number 0841                                                                   
 WALT WILCOX, Legislative Assistant, House State Affairs                       
 Committee, said HJR 60 dealt with Federal Revised Statute 2477                
 (RS 2477) that allowed roads and trails used prior to a certain               
 date to be turned into transportation corridors for future                    
 highways, rails, and trails.  He further stated the bill expired              
 in 1976 and Congress was trying to undo the RS 2477 access trails             
 across Alaska.  Therefore, HJR 60 supported the Congressional                 
 level resolutions that promoted the extension of the assertion                
 time and the ability of the state to maintain its current roads               
 and trails.  He said it was an important issue for Alaska,                    
 especially for the east to west transportation corridors, and                 
 encouraged the committee members to support the resolution.                   
 Number 0914                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that HJR 60 move from the committee               
 with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal note.                
 Number 0931                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS wondered about the hearing this summer in               
 Anchorage regarding RS 2477 and questioned the role of the                    
 Attorney General.                                                             
 Number 0954                                                                   
 MR. WILCOX replied the resolution had nothing to do with the                  
 Attorney General.  He further said HJR 60 supported Senators                  
 Murkowski and Stevens, and the ability of Alaska to retain its RS             
 2477 assertions.                                                              
 Number 0976                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES said there were 11 cases prepared to go to court to               
 challenge the validity of the RS 2477 trails.  As a result of                 
 reductions in spending, however, the Department of Law had taken              
 no action against challenging those 11 cases.  The state had been             
 expecting action from Washington D.C. to give Alaska an extended              
 length of time to recognize the cases.  "The clock was ticking,"              
 she said, to assert these rights.  Therefore, money was spent for             
 nothing, and if there was not enough money to take the cases to               
 court, the next step was to expect the federal government to do               
 something.  That was the issue HJR 60 addressed.  It also put                 
 Alaska on record with Congress that the state supported it to                 
 preserve its RS 2477 right-of-ways.                                           
 Number 1064                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said there was concern that the state had               
 not moved forward sufficiently to register the claims that were               
 Number 1084                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES agreed that was a concern.  She said, many of the RS              
 2477 right-of-ways had been identified, but getting information               
 to use in court to assert the right was becoming difficult.                   
 There was testimony from the Attorney General that there was                  
 action in the federal government to extend the state's time.                  
 There was also a question of the notice time and whether it                   
 expired in July of 1996.  She reiterated there were 11 cases                  
 fully documented and ready to go to court.  She further said                  
 there were two ways to address the issue - through the state or               
 through the federal government.                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER commented the two ways to address the issue             
 were not mutually exclusive.                                                  
 CHAIR JAMES replied, "no," they were not mutually exclusive.  The             
 best was probably to address it both ways.  At this point in                  
 time, however, the approach was through the federal government.               
 Number 1180                                                                   
 MR. WILCOX stated the legislature appropriated $1.2 million to                
 help fund this project, and more than 560 routes qualified as an              
 RS 2477 right-of-way.                                                         
 Number 1204                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER wondered why the 11 cases had not been                  
 Number 1210                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES said, according to the Attorney General, the                      
 Department of Law was focusing on other civil cases and this was              
 not a priority.  The department was also expecting an extension               
 from Congress.                                                                
 Number 1233                                                                   
 MR. WILCOX announced HJR 60 did not address private lands, only               
 public lands.  Mr. Wilcox further explained the zero fiscal note              
 was from the House State Affairs Committee, and the only cost                 
 incurred would be that which was needed to inform the Alaskan                 
 Congressional contingent the results.                                         
 CHAIR JAMES asked again if there were any objections to the                   
 motion.  Hearing none, HJR 60 moved from the House State Affairs              
 The record reflected the arrival of Representative Scott Ogan at              
 8:23 a.m.                                                                     

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