Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106

04/02/2005 10:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSSSHB 133(STA) Out of Committee
Scheduled But Not Heard
Scheduled But Not Heard
Scheduled But Not Heard
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
HB 133-LOCAL BOUNDARY COMMISSION REGS & POWERS                                                                                
10:06:08 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEATON announced  that  the first  order  of business  was                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 133, "An Act  relating to regulations of the Local                                                               
Boundary  Commission  to  provide standards  and  procedures  for                                                               
municipal   incorporation,  reclassification,   dissolution,  and                                                               
certain  municipal   boundary  changes;  and  providing   for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
10:06:40 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS  thanked the  chair and  vice chair  of the                                                               
boundary   commission   for    their   helpfulness   and   e-mail                                                               
correspondence [included in the committee packet].                                                                              
10:06:48 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN moved to adopt  the committee substitute (CS)                                                               
for the sponsor substitute (SS)  for HB 133, Version 24-LS0512\F,                                                               
as  a work  draft.   No objection  was stated  and Version  F was                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
10:07:42 AM                                                                                                                   
RYNNIEVA  MOSS,  Staff  to Representative  John  Coghill,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature, introduced HB  133 on behalf of Representative                                                               
Coghill, sponsor.   She said that  under state law, in  order for                                                               
an area  to be annexed,  it has to be  approved by a  majority of                                                               
the  people who  vote  in the  area that's  being  annexed.   She                                                               
stated,  "This aggregate  regulation  undermines that  intention.                                                               
What it says  is that the people within the  existing borough and                                                               
the people who  live in an area  to be annexed would  all vote on                                                               
the annexation ....   All of the votes would  be pulled together,                                                               
and  if a  majority of  that  aggregate vote  approves, then  the                                                               
area's annexed."  She said  Representative Coghill feels strongly                                                               
that that's not  legislative intent, nor is it the  intent of the                                                               
Alaska   State  Constitution.     She   added,  "This   piece  of                                                               
legislation says that  regulations that are adopted  by the local                                                               
boundary  commission have  to be  consistent with  state statute.                                                               
The commission  has, in the  past, said  that they felt  that the                                                               
constitution gave  them separate  authority from  the legislature                                                               
to  do as  they want,  but that  is not  Representative Coghill's                                                               
10:09:24 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  MOSS said  that,  at  the request  of  the  speaker [of  the                                                               
House],  Section  1 was  added  during  the House  Community  and                                                               
Regional  Affairs  Standing   Committee  meeting,  regarding  the                                                               
limitations of the local boundary  commission.  Ms. Moss said the                                                               
constitution  allows   [the  boundary  commission]   to  consider                                                               
petitions, but does not give it  authority to amend a petition or                                                               
impose  additional conditions  on  the incorporation.   She  said                                                               
Section 2  was added to  the sponsor substitute,  which specifies                                                               
that,  even if  the local  boundary commission  wants to  bring a                                                               
proposal for  incorporation to the  legislature, there  still has                                                               
to be two public hearings and an election of the people.                                                                        
10:11:05 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  MOSS noted  that Representative  Coghill has  recommended an                                                               
amendment  [to  be labeled  Amendment  1]  for the  committee  to                                                               
consider, which would  bring annexation in line  with how service                                                               
areas are  formed.  When a  service area is altered,  there is an                                                               
election of the  people in the service area  and, separately, the                                                               
people  in the  proposed annexed  area  hold an  election.   Both                                                               
elections require  a majority  vote of the  people.   This serves                                                               
two  purposes:   it allows  people in  an area  to be  annexed to                                                               
voice whether or  not they want to be in  a new municipality, and                                                               
it also avoids  what could be termed as a  hostile takeover.  She                                                               
offered an example.                                                                                                             
10:12:38 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEATON  directed attention to  [lines 11-12 as  numbered on                                                               
Amendment 1], which read:                                                                                                       
           (1) a proposed annexation must be approved                                                                       
     by a majority of votes on the question cast by voters                                                                  
     residing in the annexing municipality;                                                                                 
CHAIR  SEATON  said  that  is the  language  that  establishes  a                                                               
separate  vote  for the  municipality,  and  he asked  where  the                                                               
language  was  regarding the  proposed  vote  in the  area  being                                                               
10:13:15 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. MOSS  replied that that  language [is now found  in paragraph                                                               
(2)], which read as follows:                                                                                                    
               (2)   a   proposed    annexation   or   [AND]                                                            
     detachment must be  approved by a majority  of votes on                                                                    
     the  question  cast  by voters  residing  in  the  area                                                                    
     proposed to be annexed or detached;                                                                                        
10:14:14 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  ELKINS   asked  if  [HB  133]   deals  only  with                                                               
annexation, not unification or consolidation.                                                                                   
10:14:29 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. MOSS answered affirmatively.                                                                                                
10:15:51 AM                                                                                                                   
MIKE BLACK, Director, Division  of Community Advocacy, Department                                                               
of  Commerce, Community,  &  Economic  Development, testified  on                                                               
behalf of  the department  in opposition  to HB  133.   He stated                                                               
that the proposed legislation would  encumber [the Local Boundary                                                               
Commission's]  ability to  perform under  its job  description in                                                               
the constitution and  regulations.  In response  to Chair Seaton,                                                               
he said he has no response to Amendment 1.                                                                                      
10:16:59 AM                                                                                                                   
JACK COGHILL testified  as a former Representative  in the Alaska                                                               
Territorial   Legislature,   Senator    in   the   Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, and lieutenant governor of  Alaska.  He reminded the                                                               
committee that he was also  a member of the Alaska Constitutional                                                               
Convention, as  well as the chair  of the committee that  ran the                                                               
convention.   He said his position  is that the first  Article in                                                               
the constitution  is clear:   all government originates  with the                                                               
people and is  instituted solely upon the people as  a whole.  He                                                               
said  the legislature  is  the defender  of  the constitution  to                                                               
ensure that  government structure does  not override the  will of                                                               
the people.   The government structure has to  have a legislative                                                               
approval or vote  of the people in order to  be able to establish                                                               
people within a government unit.                                                                                                
10:19:13 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. COGHILL directed  attention to Section 12, Article  10 of the                                                               
Alaska State  Constitution, which  says the commission  or boards                                                               
subject to  law may establish  procedures whereby  boundaries may                                                               
be adjusted by  local action.  He stated, "It's  the local action                                                               
that  refers  back  to  Article  1  of  the  constitution,  which                                                               
establishes under  Section 2  that all  government is  created by                                                               
the people,  and by the  people solely."   He explained  that, on                                                               
that basis,  he has lobbied  for many years with  the legislature                                                               
and  now with  his son  [Representative John  Coghill] to  ensure                                                               
that   this  provision   gets   established   within  the   state                                                               
government's procedure to  allow the people that are  going to be                                                               
annexed to have the vote.                                                                                                       
10:20:15 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  ELKINS thanked  Lieutenant Governor  Jack Coghill                                                               
for testifying,  and congratulated him  on his upcoming  award as                                                               
"Man of the Year."                                                                                                              
10:20:47 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEATON  expressed his  appreciation of  Lieutenant Governor                                                               
Jack Coghill's past service.                                                                                                    
10:20:59 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG noted that  the copy of the constitution                                                               
that he carries  around with him has one autograph  on the front.                                                               
He added, "And I'm going to  not have to tell you whose autograph                                                               
that was."                                                                                                                      
10:21:49 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. COGHILL  responded, "Time  tells that  this document  that we                                                               
have is a  good document; it's a breathing document  and it lives                                                               
everyday."   He noted that  there are only five  [participants in                                                               
the  Alaska Constitutional  Convention]  still  living, and  2005                                                               
marks the convention's 50th anniversary.                                                                                        
CHAIR SEATON asked Lieutenant Governor  Jack Coghill if Section 1                                                               
of  HB   133  would  have   been  acceptable  to  those   in  the                                                               
constitutional convention.                                                                                                      
MR. COGHILL answered affirmatively.                                                                                             
PETE  ROBERTS, President,  Citizens  Concerned About  Annexation,                                                               
told  the committee  that  he was  "intensely  involved with  the                                                               
hostile  annexation in  Homer."   Regarding  HB 133,  he said  he                                                               
thinks the  bill is  a very good  change; it goes  a long  way to                                                               
take  out  the  anti-constitutional  bias by  the  LBC  that  has                                                               
existed  for   years.    Mr.   Roberts  said,  "They   cram  down                                                               
annexations in surrounding  areas to cities, they  claim that the                                                               
state  constitution  has  a  preference for  cities  and  a  bias                                                               
against service  areas, and they  are talking apples  and oranges                                                               
here."   He  indicated that  the  LBC was  talking about  utility                                                               
districts  before there  were municipalities  in Alaska,  and the                                                               
service areas the  LBC talks about today have nothing  to do with                                                               
those old utility  districts; they're merely an  area function of                                                               
the boroughs.                                                                                                                   
MR. ROBERTS  concurred with Mr.  Coghill.  He said,  "The problem                                                               
here is  that small groups  of people  with vested interests  - a                                                               
city  administration  or  a  city  council  -  can  hijack  their                                                               
neighbors, and the LBC lets them  choose the method in which they                                                               
do it.   And the only last  resort is if those  people can garner                                                               
enough  support  in  the  legislature  to  have  it  voted  down;                                                               
otherwise,  the annexation  rides through."   He  said Homer  was                                                               
hijacked.  He continued as follows:                                                                                             
     We  effected the  process greatly  with our  fight with                                                                    
     the  LBC.    We're  still  in court;  we  won  one  ...                                                                    
     [Alaska] Supreme  Court case and we're  probably headed                                                                    
     for another  ....  So,  in a  general sense, I  have to                                                                    
     say that I think that this  bill should be passed.  The                                                                    
     LBC  should not  get  to operate  as  the commissar  of                                                                    
     boundaries in  Alaska.   The idea  that, in  general, a                                                                    
     city and  a small  area surrounding  it could  have one                                                                    
     vote,  even, is  likely  to hijack  the  people in  the                                                                    
     surrounding area.                                                                                                          
     In the case  of the Homer annexation:  if  the city had                                                                    
     been willing to  put it to a vote of  the people in the                                                                    
     city -- it became such  a divisive issue here, it would                                                                    
     have been  voted down, and  they didn't dare let  it go                                                                    
     to a vote.                                                                                                                 
10:27:40 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   asked  Ms.  Moss  for   her  opinions                                                               
regarding the constitutionality of the bill.                                                                                    
10:28:12 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. MOSS  said there  have been differences  of opinion  over the                                                               
intent of the Constitutional Convention;  it's a gray area.  That                                                               
is why, she  explained, Representative John Coghill  was asked to                                                               
testify.   She  said  she  would provide  those  opinions to  the                                                               
committee.   In response  to an observation  that the  bill would                                                               
not be heard by the  House Judiciary Standing Committee, she said                                                               
she thought  it should  be, because of  the amount  of contention                                                               
and disagreement.                                                                                                               
10:28:58 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  stated, "I  have no problem  in passing                                                               
the  bill out,  but I  will make  a motion  that we,  in writing,                                                               
request that  this be referred  to [the House  Judiciary Standing                                                               
CHAIR SEATON  asked if  the sponsor would  have any  objection to                                                               
MS. MOSS interjected, "I think it would help the whole case."                                                                   
10:29:29 AM                                                                                                                   
ROBERT  KALLIO,  testifying on  behalf  of  himself, referred  to                                                               
Article 1,  Section 2,  of the  Alaska State  Constitution, which                                                               
read as follows:                                                                                                                
     SECTION 2.  Source of Government.                                                                                          
     All political  power is  inherent in  the people.   All                                                                    
     government originates with the  people, is founded upon                                                                    
     their will only, and is  instituted solely for the good                                                                    
     of the people as a whole.                                                                                                  
MR. KALLIO  stated that it is  clear that the founders  of Alaska                                                               
did not  intend that  a borough could  annex additional  areas or                                                               
"be   created   by   a   state   employee   or   five   unelected                                                               
commissioners."   He  urged  the  committee to  pass  HB 133,  to                                                               
protect the  rights of residents in  unincorporated areas against                                                               
being  annexed into  any borough  against  their will.   He  said                                                               
Lieutenant  Governor Coghill  stated this  sentiment much  better                                                               
than  he  ever  could;  he   was  there  at  the  convention  and                                                               
understood  the  intent.     He  stated  his   belief  that  [the                                                               
legislature]  is  bound  to,  and thus  must  follow,  the  state                                                               
10:31:24 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he concurs  with Mr. Kallio and the                                                               
intent of the bill.                                                                                                             
10:31:36 AM                                                                                                                   
CAM  CARLSON testified  on behalf  of  herself.   She stated  the                                                               
     I am  definitely not in  favor of annexations  that are                                                                    
     proposed where we're going to  take in large quantities                                                                    
     of  the state,  not because  we can  provide them  with                                                                    
     anything, but  just because we can  pick their pockets.                                                                    
     It comes  off to me as  totally immoral.  The  moment I                                                                    
     heard  that  this  was  even   being  proposed  by  the                                                                    
     Fairbanks  North   Star  Borough  Mayor,  I   was  just                                                                    
     absolutely appalled.                                                                                                       
     I agree with all the  previous speakers that the people                                                                    
     should  be  able  to  vote on  their  future  and  what                                                                    
     happens to  them, [and] that people  that are employees                                                                    
     of  government  and  not elected  by  the  people  have                                                                    
     frequently in the  past and are still  going way beyond                                                                    
     what they are supposed to be doing to us and for us.                                                                       
     So, I'm very much in favor  of this being a vote of the                                                                    
     people  that  reside  in  the  areas  before  they  get                                                                    
     annexed to anything,  and I am very opposed  to what is                                                                    
     happening currently  and being proposed by  some of our                                                                    
     officials, statewide.   And I am very much  in favor of                                                                    
     HB 133, and also the amendments  to it.  I think it's a                                                                    
     good idea to  have a vote of both areas  - the existing                                                                    
     area  and that  proposed to  be annexed  - and  that if                                                                    
     both don't pass it, it doesn't happen.                                                                                     
10:34:01 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  offered a possible scenario  in which a                                                               
municipality wants to  annex a large area that  is only populated                                                               
by five people.   He asked if those five people  would be able to                                                               
"scotch the whole thing."                                                                                                       
10:34:41 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. MOSS answered yes.                                                                                                          
10:34:45 AM                                                                                                                   
GARY PETERSON  testified on  behalf of himself  in support  of HB
133.    He  stated  that   he  would  like  two  points  outlined                                                               
specifically:   The first is  that the people living  in proposed                                                               
annexed areas should  have the exclusive right  to decide whether                                                               
or not  they want annexation.   The second is that  the people in                                                               
the  city  limits who  are  proposing  annexation should  not  be                                                               
allowed the aggregate vote to  impose annexation in areas outside                                                               
their city limits.  He stated,  "I believe that 'annexation' is a                                                               
dirty word."  He indicated that  the rights of people who come to                                                               
Alaska to enjoy  their freedom, the wilderness,  and the wildlife                                                               
have  eroded.   Annexation  imposes  rules  and regulations  and,                                                               
additionally, heavy  taxation.  He  said he would like  the staff                                                               
of the local boundary commission  fired and the governor to close                                                               
it down.                                                                                                                        
10:37:35 AM                                                                                                                   
VI JERREL,  Ph.D., testified  on behalf  of herself  and Alaskans                                                               
Opposed to  Annexation.  She stated  support of having a  vote by                                                               
the  people  in the  area  proposed  to  be annexed,  but  voiced                                                               
opposition to  having a vote  by the people  in the city  or area                                                               
that files the  annexation petition.  She  also stated opposition                                                               
to  aggregate votes,  and  to  giving the  LBC  the authority  to                                                               
"amend  a change  or  change  a petition."    Dr. Jerrel  stated,                                                               
"Public funds  cannot be  used to  deny a  person due  process of                                                               
law.    Rights guaranteed  by  the  state and  U.S.  Constitution                                                               
guarantee that a  person cannot be deprived of  life, liberty, or                                                               
property without  due process of  law."  She stated  objection to                                                               
the State  of Alaska's using  public funds  for misrepresentation                                                               
and wrongful procedures by the current LBC.                                                                                     
DR. JERREL said  she and Doris Cabana formed  Alaskans Opposed to                                                               
Annexation and  hired Robert C.  Erwin - a former  Alaska Supreme                                                               
Court Justice - to represent them  in the "wrongful and illegal -                                                               
in our opinion - Homer annexation."                                                                                             
10:41:24 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEATON asked Dr. Jerrel to focus specifically on HB 133.                                                                  
10:41:46 AM                                                                                                                   
DR. JERREL  posited that the  subject before the committee  is in                                                               
regard to  authority of a  local boundary commission, and  she is                                                               
talking about  authority and lack of  authority by the LBC.   She                                                               
reported that [the LBC] did not  get the 26 square miles it asked                                                               
for  [in  Homer]  because  "we  fought for  it."    The  case  is                                                               
currently  in  the Alaska  Superior  Court.    In response  to  a                                                               
request for clarification from Chair  Seaton, she reiterated that                                                               
she supports  HB 133, but  not the  amendment that would  allow a                                                               
dual vote.                                                                                                                      
CHAIR  SEATON clarified  that the  amendment would  not allow  an                                                               
aggregate vote; it would be two separate votes.                                                                                 
DR. JERREL  indicated that she had  been advised by Mr.  Erwin to                                                               
say, "We want a  vote only of the people in  the area proposed to                                                               
be annexed," not an aggregate vote.                                                                                             
10:43:03 AM                                                                                                                   
DR. JERREL, in  response to a question  from Representative Lynn,                                                               
revealed  that  her Ph.D.  is  in  administrative leadership  and                                                               
human behavior.  She offered further personal history.                                                                          
10:43:45 AM                                                                                                                   
ALAN LeMASTER,  testifying on behalf  of himself, stated  that he                                                               
is impressed  with the testimony  heard thus far and  the support                                                               
of  the bill  and its  amendment.   He  offered his  recollection                                                               
that,  during a  hearing of  HB 133  in the  House Community  and                                                               
Regional Affairs  Standing Committee, Commissioner Hicks  said he                                                               
felt  that the  bill  was "objectively  unconstitutional" and  he                                                               
didn't know of  any attorneys in the state  who could effectively                                                               
defend it.   Mr.  LeMaster said he  is especially  cautious about                                                               
the constitutionality of  the bill and is happy to  hear that the                                                               
committee will  be referring it  to the House  Judiciary Standing                                                               
10:44:58 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he would  like the citation for the                                                               
recent Homer case.                                                                                                              
10:45:19 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEATON closed public testimony.                                                                                           
10:45:34 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER said she had  not been, until today, aware                                                               
of  the pending  issue  regarding annexation  and Homer,  Alaska.                                                               
She asked if  there are other pending cases that  she is aware of                                                               
across the state.                                                                                                               
10:45:54 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  MOSS  answered  that  there is  a  related  issue  regarding                                                               
Whittier and Valdez.  She added  that Delta [Junction] is "in the                                                               
process  of  petitioning for  a  borough  to have  an  election."                                                               
Additionally, she noted that the  Fairbanks North Star Borough is                                                               
looking at  annexing everything  to the south  bank of  the Yukon                                                               
River, including Pogo Mine, which is  part of the land that Delta                                                               
is petitioning  to annex.  She  said, "The big concern  with that                                                               
whole situation is  the fact that the borough  mayor ... publicly                                                               
said that he  intended to use an aggregate vote  that was created                                                               
by  regulation that  is, without  a  question, inconsistent  with                                                               
state law."                                                                                                                     
10:47:09 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG requested that  any other court opinions                                                               
be sent to him.                                                                                                                 
10:47:33 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. MOSS  agreed to  research to  find any  past decisions.   She                                                               
     We have been pressing this  bill on the issue of equity                                                                    
     and  constitutional intent.   Because  the constitution                                                                    
     is quite clear that the people  are the power.  And the                                                                    
     Local  Boundary  Commission  on several  occasions  has                                                                    
     stated   that   the   constitution   has   given   them                                                                    
     independent  authority   to  create   law.     And  the                                                                    
     constitution is  quite clear  that the  term -  and I'm                                                                    
     looking at  Article 12,  Subsection 11  - the  term "by                                                                    
     law" and "by legislature" are interchangeable.  So law                                                                     
     is what the legislature enacts.                                                                                            
Ms.  Moss,   in  response  to  a   question  from  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg, she said Article 12 is about general provisions.                                                                     
10:49:10 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG read that subsection.                                                                                  
10:49:27 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS moved to report  CSHB 133(CRA), as amended,                                                               
out  of   committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  the                                                               
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
CHAIR  SEATON objected  to note  that the  committee had  not yet                                                               
proposed or adopted Amendment 1.                                                                                                
10:50:12 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS, as a point of order, withdrew his motion.                                                                
10:50:21 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN moved  to adopt  Amendment 1  [text provided                                                               
10:51:14 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG objected for discussion purposes.                                                                      
MS.  MOSS,   in  response  to  a   question  from  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg, affirmed that the sponsor approves of Amendment 1.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  stated for  the record, "We'll  look at                                                               
this  with  the  rest  of   bill  in  [House  Judiciary  Standing                                                               
Committee]."  He removed his objection to Amendment 1.                                                                          
10:51:32 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEATON  announced that, there  being no  further objection,                                                               
Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                                        
10:51:40 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS moved to report  CSHB 133(CRA), as amended,                                                               
out  of   committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  the                                                               
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
10:52:31 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEATON  reminded the  committee  that  the bill  has  been                                                               
assigned an  additional referral to the  House Judiciary Standing                                                               
Committee, and that referral has been agreed to by the sponsor.                                                                 
10:52:33 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  ELKINS revealed  that  he came  into the  meeting                                                               
today agreeing with  the chair of the  Local Boundary Commission,                                                               
but after the testimony of everyone, he changed his position.                                                                   
10:53:13 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEATON  announced  that there  being  no  objection,  CSHB
133(STA) was  reported out  of the  House State  Affairs Standing                                                               
10:53:22 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  MOSS thanked  the  committee,  in particular  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg for his  efforts to allow the bill the  scrutiny of the                                                               
House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                             
The committee took an at-ease from 10:54:00 AM to 10:59:55 AM.                                                              
10:59:58 AM                                                                                                                   

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