Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/12/1996 08:10 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 calculated. 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 01. 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 note. 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 Fairbanks. 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 note. 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 documents. 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 note. 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.