Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106
03/03/2009 08:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS
Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 116-IDITAROD REGISTRATION PLATES 8:10:52 AM CHAIR LYNN announced that the first order of business was HOUSE BILL NO. 116, "An Act relating to Iditarod finisher special request license plates." 8:11:13 AM JIM ELLIS, Staff, Representative Mark Neuman, Alaska State Legislature, presented HB 116 on behalf of Representative Neuman, prime sponsor. He said the intent of the bill is to congratulate those who have entered and completed the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. The Division of Motor Vehicles would receive verification regarding those who qualify from [the Iditarod Trail Committee, Inc.] - the official record keepers of the race. Furthermore, under the bill, the DMV would be authorized to design and issue the plates. The cost of the special plates would be $50; that money goes back into the General Fund, he noted. The vehicle the plates would be displayed upon would have to be registered in Alaska. Mr. Ellis offered his understanding that over 600 individuals have completed the race. 8:14:13 AM MR. ELLIS, in response to a concern indicated by Representative Gruenberg that race finishers who live outside the state may register their vehicle inside Alaska just to get the plate, offered his understanding that in some states, a person who has lived there for a certain period of time must register his/her license to that state. He said he believes each state governs that matter individually. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said past legislation regarding special license plates has been added on to like a Christmas tree. He asked if it is the sponsor's intent to not allow that to happen. 8:15:11 AM MR. ELLIS confirmed that is the sponsor's intent. 8:16:05 AM REPRESENTATIVE GATTO expressed concern that someone might scam the system in terms of saying he/she finished the race without having started at the beginning. MR. ELLIS responded that a finish has to be verified through the Iditarod Trail Committee, but said he did not know if there may be a situation which could result in a law suit. 8:17:19 AM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he thinks that in order to finish a race, a person has to have started it [at its official starting place]. 8:17:51 AM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON directed attention to language on page 2, lines 5-6, which says that the fee required "shall be collected only on the first issuance and on the replacement of special request plates". He asked if "renewal tags" would be charged at the regular rate, so that only the physical replacement of plates would incur the proposed fee. MR. ELLIS replied that that is his understanding. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON directed attention to page 2, lines 2-3, which specifies that plates for Iditarod race finishers would be $50, while other special request license plates cost $30. He asked for an explanation regarding the discrepancy. MR. ELLIS suggested that the Iditarod plate may require a new design - a more complex process - while special request plates often require only a change of letters and/or numbers. 8:20:49 AM WHITNEY BREWSTER, Director, Division of Motor Vehicles, stated that the price of special request plates is determined by the legislature. She offered her understanding that the $50 fee was selected because the Iditarod plate would be comparable to "collector plates." She mentioned license plates designed for the Alaska National Guard and the Veterans of Alaska, and related that those types of service-related plates are a little bit less expensive. 8:22:07 AM MS. BREWSTER said she imagines that the DMV would work closely with the Iditarod Trail Committee before designing a plate that would be acceptable. The division would next work with law enforcement to determine that the design would be visible to officers on the street. Ultimately, she said, the plate design would be approved by the commissioner of the Department of Administration. The same process is followed for all plates newly created through legislation, she remarked. In response to Representative Seaton, she confirmed that there is no difference in what is required to make "other special request plates" - as listed in [subparagraph (F)], on page 2 of the bill - versus what would be required to make the proposed Iditarod plate. 8:25:44 AM MS. BREWSTER, in response to a question from Representative Gruenberg, said to find a design for the most recent version of the Alaska Children's Trust plate, a contest was held in which children submitted designs. She offered her understanding that the Alaska Statehood Commission considered drawings from several artists, choosing a submission by Dean Potter for the 50th anniversary license plate. In response to a follow-up question, she indicated that the competition process takes about three months. She added that she would like to see sufficient time given to advertising the competition and taking in and reviewing entries. She confirmed that an estimate of the optimum timing would be 6-9 months. 8:28:25 AM MS. BREWSTER, in response to Representative Gruenberg, said the DMV would not be submitting a fiscal note for the bill, because it only costs the division approximately $250 to establish a new plate with a vendor. She explained that out of the proposed $50 fee, about $10 would go back to the DMV to cover production of the plate, and the remaining $40 would go into the General Fund. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG directed attention to language on page 1, lines 8-10, which read as follows: The department may disapprove the issuance of registration plates under this subsection when the requested plates are a duplication of an existing registration. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked Ms. Brewster to clarify that language. MS. BREWSTER offered her understanding that the language means that if there is an existing plate on the vehicle, the Iditarod plate would not be treated as a duplicate plate, but rather as a new plate at the $50 fee. She said the DMV requests that old plates are turned in. She confirmed that the plate is to be used on cars registered in Alaska, and she said Mr. Ellis is correct in having said that each state decides its own registration process. She stated her assumption that if an individual came to Alaska, registered his/her vehicle, and brought it back down to Montana, for example, law enforcement there would identify that individual as not having registered in the amount of time required by that state. 8:32:12 AM MR. ELLIS, in response to Representative Gruenberg, said he does not know how many of the 600 individuals who have finished the Iditarod Dog Sled Race are Alaska residents. 8:32:27 AM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he still questions the reasoning behind charging more for the Iditarod plates than for other special request plates. MS. BREWSTER said she has no strong opinion regarding the issue, and the DMV would have no problem complying if the amount of either the proposed Iditarod plate or the other special request plates was changed. CHAIR LYNN talked about the need to expedite the bill so that it would be passed before the end of the upcoming 2009 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he is not trying to slow down the bill; he just sees this issue to be a disparity. 8:34:48 AM MS. BREWSTER, in response to a question from Representative Gatto, clarified that a replacement fee for a special request plate that was damaged, for example, would be $5. 8:35:24 AM MS. BREWSTER, in response to Representative Seaton, said her understanding of the language on page 2, lines 2-3, is that the DMV would charge $50 on the first issuance of the Iditarod plate, but would not "continue to charge that amount when someone comes in to update their registration." However, if that same person were to come in and choose "another special request plate, that would be an additional cost." She clarified that Representative Gatto had asked about a replacement of a plate that had been destroyed. 8:37:46 AM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG proffered that from a lawyer's point of view the language on page 1, lines 8-10, and page 2, lines 5-6, is confusing. MS. BREWSTER concurred that the language is not as clear as it could be. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG emphasized that the language on page 1, lines 8-10, in particular, is unique to the bill, and he encouraged the bill sponsor to review it with Legislative Legal and Research Services. He said he does not want to delay the bill. 8:39:29 AM MS. BREWSTER, in response to Representative Seaton, said a person who qualifies as a race finisher could buy an Iditarod plate for each of his/her vehicles, but would be charged $50 for each plate. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he presumes some of the proposed Iditarod plates may end up unused on vehicles but, instead, signed and auctioned at charity events. 8:41:13 AM REPRESENTATIVE MARK NEUMAN, Alaska State Legislature, noted that the 2009 Iditarod was due to start soon, and he said he wants to bring more attention to the event. He said every sport is feeling a lack of sponsorship, and he would like to do what he can to elevate the sport in stature. He said he posed the idea to the governor to have her be at the race finish this year to sign the bill in Nome. He expressed appreciation for the committee's efforts to expedite the bill. 8:43:03 AM MS. BREWSTER, in response to Representative Gatto, said it is up to the legislature to decide how many special request plates it wants to create. She cautioned that an increasing number of plate designs may affect the ability of law enforcement to identify the plates. REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN confirmed the importance of the clarity and colors chosen in the design for the benefit of the Alaska State Troopers. 8:44:31 AM MS. BREWSTER, in response to Representative Seaton, reiterated that the legislature has the final say on how many plates are created. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON responded that he would like Ms. Brewster to get back to the committee regarding other special request plates and "how those are set up in law if they're not set up here other than as a broad category." 8:45:46 AM CHAIR LYNN, after ascertaining that there was no one else to testify, closed public testimony. 8:46:14 AM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved to report HB 116 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, HB 116 was reported out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee.