Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/12/1996 08:10 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 Number 0344                                                                   
 HB 438 - RECORDING: INDEX DOCUMENTS BY LOCATION                             
 CHAIR JAMES announced that the next order of business to come                 
 before the House State Affairs Committee was HOUSE BILL NO. 438 "An           
 Act relating to the indexing of documents recorded in the state               
 recorder's offices; and providing for an effective date."  Chair              
 James called on the bill's sponsor, Representative Tom Brice.                 
 REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE explained that the mining industry has               
 historically used a cardex system to record information relating to           
 location of land claims.  The state has stopped funding this                  
 system, which has created an information void.  HB 438 would add              
 the word "location" into information required to be maintained by             
 the Recorder's Office in its index system.  He invited questions              
 from the committee.                                                           
 Number 0463                                                                   
 SHARON YOUNG, State Recorder, Department of Natural Resources,                
 testified on behalf of the Department of Natural Resources.  She              
 stated that the recorder's office has historically maintained only            
 a grantor/grantee index, as mandated by statute.  As a courtesy,              
 the office has attempted to maintain a location index, which is not           
 mandated.  As a result, location information within the system is             
 incomplete.  Within the past year, the recorder's office has                  
 attempted to index all locations.  Because the volume levels are              
 low, they have been able to do this without additional funding.               
 She explained that mandating the location index would provide a               
 more comprehensive and complete public record, not only for the               
 mining community, but for other individuals who use the system.               
 She invited questions from the committee.                                     
 Number 0580                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES asked if Ms. Young wished to testify regarding the                
 fiscal note.                                                                  
 MS. YOUNG responded that the fiscal note anticipates a 5 percent              
 annual volume increase, after FY 97.  The proposed funding would be           
 necessary to support that volume level.                                       
 Number 0656                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES replied that there were two fiscal notes.  The first,             
 regarding the information resource management component, shows a              
 personal services item of $70 thousand in FY 97.  The recorder's              
 office Uniform Commercial Code component shows no personal services           
 in FY 97, but begins in FY 98, and continues.  She noted the                  
 increases appeared to cover only regular merit and step increases,            
 and did not add additional positions.                                         
 Number 0699                                                                   
 MS. YOUNG concurred.  She stated the increases were based on                  
 current years' salaries, and assume a 5 percent growth in volume.             
 She noted that a representative of the Information Services section           
 was also present to testify.                                                  
 CHAIR JAMES reiterated her understanding that the information has             
 always been provided as a courtesy by the recorder's office, and              
 not by the Information Services section.                                      
 Number 0740                                                                   
 MS. YOUNG agreed.  She explained that the testimony of the Land               
 Records Information Section would clarify their fiscal note, which            
 addresses a broader scope of integrating the information with other           
 database information within the department.                                   
 Number 0762                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES asked if the information would still be kept on a                 
 cardex system.                                                                
 MS. YOUNG replied that the recorder's office would continue to                
 index the information as it has in the past.  She explained that              
 the information services section would provide an interface with              
 other information.                                                            
 Number 0802                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN asked how the cost increases were                    
 MS. YOUNG replied that the increase was based on average recording            
 volumes.  A document increase of about 4,500 substantiates an                 
 additional full-time position.  She further explained that                    
 statewide volume has averaged about 200,000 documents per year, and           
 a 5 percent increase is anticipated.                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN then asked why twice as many full-time                   
 employees would be required.                                                  
 Number 0891                                                                   
 MS. YOUNG replied she was not sure she understood the question.               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN responded that he was looking at positions, on           
 the fiscal note.                                                              
 MS. YOUNG explained that the $70 thousand need in personal services           
 would cover a five percent volume growth, which would represent one           
 full-time and one part-time position.  In the next year, a                    
 subsequent 5 percent growth would result in a dollar need of $81              
 thousand.  The positions would increase to two full-time.                     
 Number 0941                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN then asked about the figures for FY 98 and FY            
 MS. YOUNG explained that the figures are not finite.                          
 CHAIR JAMES expressed her opinion that the figures did not                    
 calculate correctly.  She stated that the fiscal note would be                
 handled by the Finance Committee, but that it was a very important            
 component of the bill.                                                        
 Number 1028                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN mentioned that he had noticed no finance            
 committee referral on the bill.                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied that there would have to be a finance referral,           
 since there was a fiscal note.                                                
 Number 1054                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER suggested the Clerk's office should be                  
 notified the bill needs a referral to House Finance, and that the             
 House State Affairs Committee has a concern over the validity of              
 the fiscal note.                                                              
 Number 1071                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN noted the bill's passage hinges on the fiscal            
 CHAIR JAMES stated she did not want a fiscal note to kill the bill.           
 Number 1110                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES invited Richard McMahon to testify.                               
 RICHARD MCMAHON, Chief, Land Records Information Section,                     
 Department of Natural Resources (DNR), stated he had participated             
 in the cardex meetings mentioned earlier.  He explained the DNR's             
 proposal would not replace the cardex system.  Rather, the                    
 objective is to expand the indexing, so that recorded documents can           
 be located by location.  The DNR's system contains all mining                 
 records, as well as many others.  The department also has access to           
 federal records, through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)                  
 system.  He stated that the DNR would like to institute an index              
 system using a common key approach.  The fiscal note would provide            
 one computer programming position for twelve months, as well as               
 funding to pay for Department of Administration mainframe services.           
 Number 1223                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES responded she assumed some computer programming would             
 be needed, which was why she had asked the questions of the                   
 previous witness.                                                             
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness, via teleconference, in                
 Number 1248                                                                   
 MARY NORDALE stated she would testify in support of HB 438.  She              
 explained she was a member of the cardex committee, chaired by Earl           
 Beistline, who had authorized her to speak on his behalf.  She                
 emphasized that HB 438 is an extremely important bill for the                 
 mining industry, as well as other resource based industries.  The             
 cardex system which has always been used is a good one, and works             
 well, but is available only in Fairbanks.  People wanting to do               
 research in the system have had to come to Fairbanks.  This has               
 been a subject of concern to the mining industry statewide.  Ms.              
 Nordale pointed out that, as far as the fiscal note is concerned,             
 the recorder's office does collect fees for documents recorded, and           
 in this way actually generates revenue.                                       
 Number 1471                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN mentioned the receipts generated by the                   
 recorder's office.  He asked if there was a way to find out if the            
 receipts would bring in enough revenue to offset the fiscal note.             
 CHAIR JAMES responded that, as the witness explained, the fee for             
 services in the recording office provides more money than the                 
 office spends.  She explained that the money goes into the general            
 fund, so the money received would not actually offset the fiscal              
 Number 1545                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if going to a digital system would result           
 in enough increased revenue to offset the cost of the new system.             
 CHAIR JAMES replied she didn't think there would be fees charged              
 for using the system.  The fees are only charged for recording                
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER commented that the fiscal note from the                 
 recorder's office does contain an offset of revenue.  However, the            
 fiscal note from information resources management has $90 thousand            
 that is not offset.  Therefore, the fiscal impact to the budget               
 would be $90 thousand in FY 97, and an additional ten thousand in             
 other years.                                                                  
 CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Young to respond to the question regarding              
 fees charged for using the information.                                       
 Number 1635                                                                   
 MS. YOUNG responded that, yes, the fees are generated only by                 
 recording of documents.  Access to the documents is free.                     
 CHAIR JAMES asked if it would be possible for the information to be           
 tallied and available statewide via computer.                                 
 Number 1692                                                                   
 MR. MCMAHON stated that the index system would be able to identify            
 recorded documents, and provide the book and page records, so that            
 the documents could be accessed in the recorder's office.  The                
 proposed system would not provide electronic images of the                    
 documents themselves.  He explained that in the cardex meetings,              
 one consultant stated that research which would take one to two               
 hours using the cardex system, could take three to five days                  
 looking by book and page in the recorder's office.                            
 Number 1750                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES responded that she didn't visualize the system                    
 providing electronic images of the documents.  She stated that                
 being able to identify an area of the state, and discover the                 
 ownership and status of the land, is extremely important to                   
 resource development.                                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked if the recorder's office had the                    
 authority to charge the public for accessing the information.                 
 Number 1810                                                                   
 MR. MCMAHON replied that the authority to institute fee schedules             
 was in place.                                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if it was correct that receipts                    
 currently exceed the cost of running the recorder's office.                   
 MS. YOUNG replied, yes, that was true.                                        
 Number 1866                                                                   
 MS. NORDALE stated the mining community in Fairbanks has always               
 supported fees for recording of required documents.                           
 CHAIR JAMES reiterated her belief that the House State Affairs                
 Committee should not be arguing over fiscal notes.  She emphasized            
 that she doesn't want to see the bill killed because of the fiscal            
 Number 1993                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN stated he approved of the intent of the              
 bill, but questioned if a statute was actually required.  Couldn't            
 the intent be accomplished through administrative measures?                   
 CHAIR JAMES responded that funds for this process had been taken              
 out of the budget, because it was not a statutory requirement.  She           
 again emphasized the information is a valuable tool for the mining            
 community, and should be available statewide.  Therefore, the bill            
 is needed to make collecting of this information a statutory                  
 requirement.  She stated she wanted to be sure she had enough                 
 information to support the issue in the budget process, and she               
 appreciated the information provided.                                         
 Number 2067                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS made a motion to pass HB 438 with                    
 accompanying fiscal note and individual recommendations out of the            
 House State Affairs Committee, with a note regarding the validity             
 of the fiscal note.  There being no objection, HB 438 was passed              
 out of the House State Affairs Committee.                                     

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