Legislature(2009 - 2010)

04/14/2009 02:56 PM TRA

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 59-LOW-SPEED MOTOR VEHICLES                                                                                                
3:10:06 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
CS  FOR SENATE  BILL  NO. 59(TRA)  am, "An  Act  relating to  the                                                               
operation  of  low-speed  vehicles."    She  mentioned  that  the                                                               
committee also heard the companion bill on April 8, 2009.                                                                       
3:10:12 PM                                                                                                                    
WESTON  EILER,   Staff,  Senator   Bert  Stedman,   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  stated on  behalf of  the prime  sponsor of  SB 59,                                                               
Senator Bert Stedman, that SB 59  was amended on the floor of the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG made  a  motion to  adopt the  proposed                                                               
House  committee substitute  (HCS) for  CSSB 59(TRA)  am, labeled                                                               
26-LS0280\N,  Luckhaupt,  4/14/09.   There  being  no  objection,                                                               
Version N was before the committee.                                                                                             
MR. EILER stated  Version N would incorporate  changes to address                                                               
many  of  the issues  that  the  Department of  Transportation  &                                                               
Public Facilities  (DOT&PF) had with  the bill.  He  offered that                                                               
the bill  had several committee hearings  in the other body.   He                                                               
referred to language  in Version N that incorporates  many of the                                                               
concerns  members  had  on  the   companion  bill,  HB  55.    He                                                               
specifically  referred to  page 1,  line 11  of Version  N, which                                                               
adds a  provision limiting  low-speed vehicles  to municipalities                                                               
with a population  of less than 35,000 and to  the last provision                                                               
on page  2.  He opined  that SB 59 largely  mirrors the companion                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   JOHNSON  asked   for  an   explanation  of   the                                                               
differences between SB 59 and Version N.                                                                                        
MR.  EILER explained  the  final  version of  SB  59 included  an                                                               
amendment that  would allow municipalities  to pass  an ordinance                                                               
allowing low-speed  vehicles to be operated  in urban situations.                                                               
He  offered  the DOT&PF  expressed  concern  that congestion  and                                                               
safety could  be an issue in  some urban situations.   An earlier                                                               
version of the bill allowed  low-speed vehicles to be operated in                                                               
municipalities with  a population of  25,000 or less  that passed                                                               
an ordinance  so long  as the municipality  was not  connected by                                                               
road  to  Anchorage  or Fairbanks.    Thus,  compromise  language                                                               
contained  in Version  N would  limit the  low-speed vehicles  to                                                               
communities of 35,000 or less.                                                                                                  
3:13:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON  related her understanding the  DOT&PF was concerned                                                               
that operating  the low-speed vehicles  would not be safe  due to                                                               
merging with faster traffic.                                                                                                    
MR.  EILER  agreed.   He  highlighted  that  currently  low-speed                                                               
vehicles that top  out at 25 miles per hour  (mph) are allowed to                                                               
travel statewide  on roads with  a speed limit  of 35 mph.   This                                                               
bill would  recognize the bourgeoning  use of these  vehicles and                                                               
allow them  to travel  on roadways  posted at  45 mph.   However,                                                               
that disparate  speed, a 20  mph difference, raised  concern with                                                               
DOT&PF.   Thus, the expansion was  limited to areas off  the main                                                               
road system or to smaller communities of 35,000 or less.                                                                        
3:14:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN related his  understanding Version N puts                                                               
in  language that  was removed  by  the other  body during  floor                                                               
MR. EILER answered yes.                                                                                                         
3:14:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON stated  he would like the DOT&PF  to be on                                                               
the record with their support.   He also said he assumes that the                                                               
bill sponsor is in total agreement with Version N language.                                                                     
MR. EILER answered yes.                                                                                                         
3:15:16 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON stated  he was not sure  if it appropriate                                                               
to ask, but he asked for the floor vote.                                                                                        
CHAIR  WILSON  answered that  it  is  not appropriate  and  ruled                                                               
Representative Johnson out of order.                                                                                            
3:15:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON expressed  concern that SB 59  has a great                                                               
deal of  value, but if Version  N is adopted and  the Senate does                                                               
not concur, the bill would die.                                                                                                 
3:16:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON  informed members she  did not  want to move  a bill                                                               
from  committee  that the  DOT&PF  is  definitely against.    She                                                               
related that Version N was developed by the sponsor.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  offered his  support for the  language in                                                               
the  companion  bill.    He  related that  the  sponsor  and  the                                                               
department  may support  Version  N, but  the department  support                                                               
should not  dictate the vote  of the committee.   He acknowledged                                                               
the position,  but asked  to discuss the  action.   He recognized                                                               
the vote in the other body was relevant.                                                                                        
3:17:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON recognized his concern  and said she would allow the                                                               
MR. EILER  offered to check  the record.   He offered  his belief                                                               
the Senate amendment  was widely supported and that  SB 59 passed                                                               
3:17:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN   offered  support  for   the  sponsor's                                                               
3:18:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  pointed out  in order to  qualify under                                                               
subparagraph (A)  that a  municipality must  do all  three things                                                               
listed in sub-subparagraph (i), (ii),  and (iii).  Thus, in order                                                               
to  qualify to  operate a  vehicle on  a highway  with a  maximum                                                               
speed  limit  of 45  mph  a  highway  must  be located  within  a                                                               
municipality  that has  a population  under 35,000,  must not  be                                                               
connected   by  road   to  Anchorage   or   Fairbanks,  and   the                                                               
municipality  must   have  passed  an  ordinance   to  allow  the                                                               
operation of a low-speed vehicle  as provided for in subparagraph                                                               
(b).   He suggested that to  make the provision clear,  perhaps a                                                               
friendly amendment  could be made.   He  related that on  page 1,                                                               
after line 13, to  add an "and" after the ";"and  on page 2, line                                                               
1, to add an "or" after ";".                                                                                                    
MR.  EILER explained  that subsection  (b) would  allow low-speed                                                               
vehicles to be  operated in areas such as Prince  of Wales Island                                                               
that are  not connected to the  road system.  He  reiterated that                                                               
some areas are not connected to the road system.                                                                                
3:19:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  explained  that  the  purpose  of  his                                                               
"friendly" amendment  would be to  make that  allowance perfectly                                                               
clear.     Representative  Gruenberg  made  a   motion  to  adopt                                                               
Conceptual Amendment 1, as follows:                                                                                             
     Page 1, line 13, following ";"                                                                                             
          Insert "and"                                                                                                          
     Page 2, line 1 following ";"                                                                                               
          Insert "or"                                                                                                           
3:20:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON  objected for purpose  of discussion.  She  asked if                                                               
an additional word should also be inserted on page 1, line 11.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  answered  no.   He  stated  additional                                                               
language would not be necessary.                                                                                                
3:21:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   DOOGAN  related   his  understanding   the  only                                                               
substantive difference  between the  two versions  of SB  59, the                                                               
Senate  committee substitute  and Version  N, is  that Version  N                                                               
contains the provision, "has a population of less than 35,000".                                                                 
3:21:57 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. EILER pointed out one  other change incorporated in Version N                                                               
is a technical  amendment.  He referred to page  2, line 7, which                                                               
removes the word "authorized".                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  DOOGAN  maintained  the only  substantive  change                                                               
contained in  SB 59,  Version N  is that the  bill is  limited to                                                               
municipalities with a population of less than 35,000.                                                                           
MR. EILER noted his agreement.                                                                                                  
3:23:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON emphasized that  he does not support using                                                               
low-speed vehicles in  cities.  He asked if  the committee should                                                               
consider reverting back to the original version of the bill.                                                                    
3:23:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON said he did not wish to hold the bill up.                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON removed  her  objection.   There  being no  further                                                               
objection, Conceptual Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                  
3:24:31 PM                                                                                                                    
MEGAN  PASTERNAK stated  that  she owns  and  drives an  electric                                                               
vehicle.   She opined that it  would be great if  this bill could                                                               
get passed this  session.  She referred to  her earlier testimony                                                               
which presented her views on this  bill.  She further opined that                                                               
low-speed vehicles should be allowed  in larger communities since                                                               
they still have  35 mph "pockets" where  low-speed vehicles could                                                               
be driven.   Additionally, some  municipalities are  connected to                                                               
the  larger communities.   She  recalled  some people's  concerns                                                               
that  low-speed  vehicle  owners  will not  pay  their  share  of                                                               
highway maintenance fees.   She offered her belief  that her 1200                                                               
pound  car causes  little damage  to roadways  compared to  other                                                               
vehicles or heavy  trucks.  She expressed her  willingness to pay                                                               
fees.  She stated  that she would love to put  her vehicle on the                                                               
ferry  and drive  it around  Juneau, but  it is  not possible  to                                                               
drive from  the ferry to  downtown Juneau since the  highway that                                                               
connects the terminal to downtown has  a speed limit in excess of                                                               
45 mph.                                                                                                                         
CHAIR  WILSON remarked  that people  can  drive on  35 mph  roads                                                               
anywhere in state.                                                                                                              
3:27:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WILSON, after  first  determining no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on SB 59.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ   moved  to  report  the   House  committee                                                               
substitute  (HCS)  for  CSSB  59(TRA)  am,  labeled  26-LS0280\N,                                                               
Luckhaupt, 4/14/09, as amended,  out of committee with individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no objection,  the HCS CSSB  59(TRA) was reported from  the House                                                               
Transportation Standing Committee.                                                                                              
3:28:23 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ  thanked Chair Wilson for  providing members                                                               
with a great process this legislative session.                                                                                  

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