Legislature(1999 - 2000)
02/11/1999 01:07 PM TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 73 - MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION FEES CHAIR MASEK announced the first order of business was House Bill No. 73, "An Act relating to commercial vehicle registration fees and taxes; and providing for an effective date." Number 0089 TED DEATS, Legislative Assistant to Representative Beverly Masek, Alaska State Legislature, read the following sponsor statement into the record: Last year, the Twentieth Legislature, Second Session, passed Senate CS for CS for House Bill No. 404(RLS). This bill raised temporary registration fees for out-of-state trucks to fund size, weight and safety inspections statewide. This bill eliminated the requirement of annual registration of commercial trailers with the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), saving the state $100,000 by eliminating 20,000 yearly transactions. It also saved trucking companies the chore of hunting down hundreds of trailers statewide, on barges, or even out of state, to affix registration stickers. The House version raised fees on commercial trucks to offset the revenue lost to the state from registering trailers. However, in the final days of passage, bill critics noted that some municipalities lost tax revenues by eliminating trailer registrations. (The DMV collects taxes for some municipalities when it registers vehicles.) The bill was amended to include a 'sunset' date of March 30, 1999. This 'sunset' was to allow the trucking industry, municipalities, and DMV time to agree on a plan to replace the lost revenues or go back to yearly registration of trailers. After several recent teleconferences and meetings, the affected parties reached certain agreements. HB 73 meets these agreements by: * Making permanent the new registration fees for commercial vehicles. * Raising the municipal tax schedule by $75 per year on trucks over 12,000 pounds to restore lost revenue to affected municipalities. * Tightening the 'situs' language so that trucks are registered for where they are normally used. Number 0345 FRANK DILLON, Executive Vice President, Alaska Trucking Association, testified via teleconference from Anchorage in support of HB 73. He agreed that HB 73 is basically a corrective bill for actions taken under HB 404 last session. He emphasized how important this is to the trucking industry in Alaska, in that last year was one of the best the industry has had in a decade. He added, however, that the prospects for the rest of this year and next year are a little bit less optimistic. He further stated that many trucking companies do the majority of their work in oil field servicing. As a result of fiscal problems related to the price of oil, he explained, these companies are looking at the loss of millions of dollars in contracts that they had thought were secure. MR. DILLON reported having met numerous times over the last six months with representatives from the major municipalities that collect this tax, and he stressed that their industry has worked very hard to accommodate them. It was the intention of HB 404, he added, to be a revenue-neutral piece of legislation, and it was purely an oversight on the part of all parties involved that the municipalities were not involved earlier. MR. DILLON further explained that it was agreed upon several weeks ago that increasing the fee on the allowable portion for municipal taxes by $75 on the two heaviest weight classes of vehicles would replace the potential loss of revenue from commercial vehicle trailers that would no longer be on their tax rolls. He emphasized that the short-term efficiencies for government, the 20,000 transactions that the industry does not have to go through, and the trailers that do not have to be located to affix tags to, would all be compelling reasons to pass HB 73. He declared that this bill had the support of "the Municipal League, the people who would be collecting taxes, the state government, the Division of Motor Vehicles and the Teamsters." He clarified that, despite the voluminous size of HB 73, the only real change in this bill from HB 404 would be the allowance of an increase of $75 in the 12,000- pound-and-up class of vehicles for municipal tax purposes. Number 0628 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO noted that the increased registration fees were intended to apply towards weight and safety inspections. He wondered how effective the state of Alaska has been in utilizing collected fees as intended for a safety program. MR. DILLON responded, "Unfortunately, there is no direct linkage between the fees that we pay in motor vehicle licensing and our safety inspection program and our measurement standards weighing program." It was his opinion that both of these programs are locally underfunded and not doing the job they should. He clarified that this funding has to be re-appropriated specifically from the general fund by the Governor's budget. Number 0720 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked if this bill was identical to the one last year, with the exception of the addition to accommodate the municipalities. MR. DILLON said yes. Number 0779 CHARLES R. HOSACK, Deputy Director, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Department of Administration, testified via teleconference from Anchorage on behalf of the DMV in support of HB 73. He agreed that HB 73 benefits the DMV, as well as businesses. The DMV has been charging these fees since January 1, 1999, he added, and they are issuing permanent plates to trailers. He stressed that passage of this bill would allow continuation of this program. He confirmed the earlier belief that HB 73 was fully supported by the municipalities involved. Number 0868 JUANITA HENSLEY, Administrator, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Department of Administration, State of Alaska, testified via teleconference from Texas on behalf of the DMV in support of HB 73. She confirmed that it was simply an oversight that HB 404 did not address the 13 communities around the state that the DMV collects taxes for, and she reported that they have been working with these various municipalities since then to rectify the situation. It was never their intention, she added, to have these communities lose money due to this simple oversight. MS. HENSLEY stated, "Any time you start dealing with Title 28 in the Alaska motor vehicle laws, if you change one small section in there, there is a whole triage of other sections that also need changing." She explained that HB 73 would not change the fee structure from what the DMV is already doing today, other than the fact that they would be collecting additional taxes on those two larger sets of trucks. Number 1009 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked whether the plates would be transferable from one vehicle to another. MS. HENSLEY said no, and added that they belong to the trailer and would stay there. REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY questioned if rural Alaska would be exempt from this if HB 73 were to become law. MS. HENSLEY confirmed that the list of communities that are currently exempt would remain exempt under this bill. REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY sought clarification as to how a community achieved this exempt status. MS. HENSLEY explained that this was granted if a community had an average of less than 499 vehicles daily on a particular roadway. REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY wondered whether this was true even if the state of Alaska was maintaining the roads. MS. HENSLEY said yes, as long as the road was not connected to a highway system that had greater than 499 vehicles daily on it. Number 1115 PETER BLANAS, Member, Teamsters Union Local 959, Anchorage, testified via teleconference in support of HB 73. He emphasized that HB 73 would benefit the transportation sector in many ways, not the least of which would be no longer having to chase down and apply decals to trailers which may be scattered, literally, across the country. He agreed that this would represent a cost-cutting measure for both the DMV and the transportation industry. He added that the additional collection of fees to satisfy local tax impositions would be an adequate "fix" to any foreseeable problem. Number 1170 BARBARA HUFF TUCKNESS, Director of Legislative and Governmental Affairs, Teamsters Union Local 959, Anchorage, appeared before the committee on behalf of her union to go on record in support of HB 73. She referred the committee to the letter submitted by Gerald L. Hood, Secretary-Treasurer of General Teamsters Local 959, State of Alaska, as further proof of this support. While addressing issues of safety, adoption of federal regulations into state law, and registration issues, she explained, some of the municipal taxes being collected were inadvertently overlooked. She endorsed HB 73 as a solution to this problem. Number 1230 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO sought clarification concerning the process involved with registering out-of-state trailers entering the Municipality of Anchorage. MS. HUFF TUCKNESS indicated she believed that these individual companies had employees who register these trucks as part of their job, and added that it usually takes about three to four months of each year to tag these trailers and make sure they have appropriate registration. The trucks are registered, she explained, at the location they are being utilized in. Number 1324 MR. DILLON added to his previous testimony. He stated that the goal was to expedite HB 73, as it has a March 30, 1999, deadline to meet. Number 1366 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY made a motion that HB 73 move from the committee with individual recommendations and a zero fiscal note. There being no objection, HB 73 was moved out of the House Transportation Standing Committee.