Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/19/2004 01:33 PM House TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 327-POWERS/DUTIES DOTPF                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLM  announced that the  first order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 327, "An Act  relating to the powers and duties of                                                               
the  Department  of  Transportation and  Public  Facilities;  and                                                               
repealing  a  requirement  that  public  facilities  comply  with                                                               
energy standards adopted by the  Department of Transportation and                                                               
Public Facilities."                                                                                                             
CHAIR  HOLM clarified  that  the  [proposed committee  substitute                                                               
(CS),  labeled   23-LS1135\H,  Utermohle,  2/17/04,]   was  being                                                               
Number 0080                                                                                                                     
TODD  LARKIN,  Staff to  Representative  Jim  Holm, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, presented  HB 327 on behalf  of Representative Holm,                                                               
sponsor.   Mr. Larkin, paraphrasing  from the  sponsor statement,                                                               
     HB 327  is being brought  forward at the  suggestion of                                                                    
     DOT [Department  of Transportation &  Public Facilities                                                                    
     (DOT&PF)] and  the attorney  general's office  to clean                                                                    
     up old  statute, which is  now - and really  always has                                                                    
     been -  obsolete.  A  situation has developed  in rural                                                                    
     Alaska where  a bridge is  being held up because  of an                                                                    
     oversight by state government.                                                                                             
     In  ... 1977,  the  then-governor  wrote ...  Executive                                                                    
     Order  number  39,  Section   2,  creating  the  Alaska                                                                    
     Transportation [Planning] Council,  among other things.                                                                    
     It  directed the  commissioner of  DOT to  consult with                                                                    
     this  council on  all  annual transportation  projects.                                                                    
     Projects were not supposed to  move forward without the                                                                    
     recommendation of the council being considered.                                                                            
     Unfortunately,   ...   the    then-governor   and   the                                                                    
     succeeding governors failed to  appoint members to this                                                                    
     council,  so it  never  came  into physical  existence.                                                                    
     Therefore, there's  no one to consider  the opinions of                                                                    
     DOT.   In our  fervor to comply  with many  ... federal                                                                    
     requirements  in  getting  our  roads,  ...  the  state                                                                    
     converted  their   attention  to  complying   with  ...                                                                    
     federal requirements to get our projects done.                                                                             
     ... This  somewhat fell by  the wayside because  it was                                                                    
     outside of  the legislative process by  executive order                                                                    
     -  by  failure of  action  to  actually ...  arrive  in                                                                    
     statute.  It was just somewhat ignored.                                                                                    
Number 0302                                                                                                                     
MR. LARKIN directed attention to  Section 2 [subsection (a), page                                                               
3, lines 29-31, and page 4, lines 1-5], which read:                                                                             
          (a)  The commissioner shall develop [ANNUALLY] a                                                                      
     comprehensive,  intermodal,  long-range  transportation                                                                    
     plan for  the state.   In  developing and  revising the                                                                    
     state plan,  the commissioner shall consider  means and                                                                    
     costs  of  improving  existing  modes  and  facilities,                                                                    
     state  and  federal  subsidies,   and  the  costs  [AND                                                                    
     BENEFITS] of  new transportation modes  and facilities.                                                                    
     [THE    COMMISSIONER    SHALL   ALSO    CONSIDER    THE                                                                    
     RECOMMENDATION  OF THE  ALASKA TRANSPORTATION  PLANNING                                                                    
     COUNCIL.]  The plan shall  be submitted to the governor                                                                    
     for review  and approval and submitted  by the governor                                                                    
     to the legislature.                                                                                                        
MR. LARKIN  brought attention to  [page 3, lines 30-31,  and page                                                               
4,  lines 1-2],  the language  that directs  the commissioner  to                                                               
study  the costs  and benefits  of new  transportation modes  and                                                               
facilities,   and   he  said   [DOT&PF]   would   speak  to   the                                                               
ramifications  of  that language  and  why  that portion  of  the                                                               
statute  is  impractical.   He  noted  that although  the  Alaska                                                               
Transportation [Planning] Council exists  in statute, the council                                                               
itself  does not  exist; there's  nobody to  consult with  and no                                                               
recommendations.  He said that  litigation has been brought forth                                                               
because of  this oversight, and it  is likely there will  be more                                                               
litigation in the  future.  Mr. Larkin said every  project in the                                                               
state will be  dramatically affected by this,  and rural projects                                                               
will  be even  more  affected  by things  like  the cost  benefit                                                               
study, if it were to remain in statute.                                                                                         
MR. LARKIN said the requirements  to [conduct annual studies] are                                                               
being changed  so [studies are  conducted] "periodically"  at the                                                               
discretion of  the commissioner, because annual  requirements are                                                               
cost prohibitive   He said  the requirement to  study alternative                                                               
fuel  has been  expanded to  include all  alternative fuel.   Mr.                                                               
Larkin  noted   that  the   other  changes   are  "house-cleaning                                                               
measures."  He explained that  the requirement for DOT&PF to keep                                                               
school   buildings   in   compliance  with   energy   performance                                                               
standards,  which was  originally established  in 1977,  is being                                                               
changed so local school districts [assume that responsibility].                                                                 
CHAIR HOLM asked  if the change is being made  because the school                                                               
districts  are truly  responsible for  that and  should be  given                                                               
that authority and responsibility.                                                                                              
MR. LARKIN, in response, said exactly.                                                                                          
Number 0548                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  STEPOVICH asked  if this  pertains to  all DOT&PF                                                               
Number 0620                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  HOLM stated  that he  would like  DOT&PF to  have time  to                                                               
participate, and  for the bill to  have proper hearing.   [HB 327                                                               
was held over.]                                                                                                                 

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