Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/22/1993 09:07 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
  SENATE BILL NO. 82                                                           
                                                                               
       An Act relating to the Dalton Highway.                                  
                                                                               
  Co-chair Pearce  directed  that  SB 82  be  brought  on  for                 
  discussion  and referenced  a draft, handwritten  SFC fiscal                 
  note for the Dept. of Public Safety, which she explained was                 
  in the process of being typed in final form.  Co-chair Frank                 
  said  that the  draft SFC  note reduces the  department note                 
  from $786.7 to $99.0.  He explained that over  the six years                 
  he has worked on  opening the Dalton, the only  concern that                 
  appears to have legitimacy relates to possible pressure upon                 
  fish  and game resources.  While the  Dept. of Fish and Game                 
  has not expressed  concern, the Dept.  of Public Safety  has                 
  requested additional  fish and wildlife  protection officers                 
  to monitor the highway.  The department  requested two full-                 
  time  blue shirts,  a full-time brown  shirt and  a seasonal                 
  brown  shirt.     The SFC  note  funds three  seasonal brown                 
  shirts  to  address  additional  impact  on  fish  and  game                 
  resources.  Most  of the hunting  and fishing pressure  will                 
  occur during the summer and fall.                                            
                                                                               
  Senator Kerttula voiced  his belief that opening of the road                 
  would cost more  than funding set  forth on the draft  note.                 
  He further commented  on enforcement needs along  the Copper                 
  River Highway should it open.                                                
                                                                               
  SENATOR LINCOLN next came before  committee.  She referenced                 
  questions   raised   when   the  bill   was   before  Senate                 
  Transportation  and  acknowledged  receipt  of  a   memo  in                 
  response  from Senator  Frank.   She  then urged  members to                 
  carefully consider the overall impact of opening the Dalton.                 
  Senator Lincoln suggested that not all departments have been                 
  open in terms of what the ultimate cost will be.                             
                                                                               
  Senator  Lincoln  referenced  an  environmental  assessment,                 
  before   the  Tanana  Chiefs   Conference,     dealing  with                 
  environmental impact from mile 0 to 56 and noted that it was                 
  not  part  of  committee  documentation  on  SB  82.     The                 
  assessment notes  significant impact  on fisheries  and fur-                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  bearing habitat as  a result of  tourism in  the area.   The                 
  Senator suggested that members consider  the road as a whole                 
  rather than merely a portion  of it when calculating  costs.                 
  She further commented  on debris  along the highway  (tires,                 
  broken  pieces   of  trailers,  broken-down   vehicles,  and                 
  ordinary trash).                                                             
                                                                               
  Senator Lincoln further questioned liability associated with                 
  the  opening of additional portions of the haul road, noting                 
  specifically  a lack  of pullouts  and white-out  conditions                 
  occasioned by dust and flying rocks.   She stressed that the                 
  Dalton  is  a  commercial  rather  than a  tourist  highway.                 
  Tourism will merely be a byproduct.                                          
                                                                               
  Senator Lincoln next directed attention to Resolution 93-129                 
  from the Tanana Chiefs Conference and read the following:                    
                                                                               
       BE  IT FURTHER  RESOLVED,  that the  Tanana Chiefs                      
       Conference opposes the opening of the haul road by                      
       either the  Alaska Legislature or  Governor Hickel                      
       unless a negotiated settlement is reached with the                      
       state and the villages.                                                 
                                                                               
  The foregoing provides an opening for  the state to sit down                 
  with villages  and discuss  concerns.   The Senator  further                 
  pointed to ongoing litigation between  the Tanana Chiefs and                 
  the  state.   Oral arguments  are  to commence  this summer.                 
  Many questions surrounding  opening of the road have not yet                 
  been  answered.   In  her  closing remarks,  Senator Lincoln                 
  raised questions  concerning the potential  financial burden                 
  opening of the road might place upon the state.                              
                                                                               
  In  response  to  a  question  from Senator  Jacko,  Senator                 
  Lincoln attested to concern relating to impact upon villages                 
  along  the  haul   road  corridor,   fish  and  game,   fire                 
  protection, subsistence use, etc.   Senator Frank noted that                 
  the proposed agreement by TCC is,  according to the Dept. of                 
  Law, unacceptable.                                                           
                                                                               
  End, SFC-93, #43, Side 1                                                     
  Begin, SFC-93, #43, Side 2                                                   
                                                                               
  Co-chair Frank reiterated that impact upon  of fish and game                 
  resources  is a  legitimate  concern.   He  then voiced  his                 
  belief  the impact would  not be significant,  but he agreed                 
  that additional fish  and wildlife officers and  funding for                 
  Dept.  of  Fish  and Game  monitoring  represent  reasonable                 
  approaches.   The Senator  again stressed  that the  general                 
  public should have the right to drive a state-owned highway.                 
  There  is no  overriding or  compelling reason for  the last                 
  portion of the road to remain closed when other parts of the                 
  highway have been  incrementally opened over the  years with                 
  no  "bad experience."   The  fact that the  road is  open at                 
  least half way has not resulted in significantly detrimental                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  impact.                                                                      
                                                                               
  Senator  Kelly asked if  passage of the  proposed bill would                 
  eliminate  existing  litigation.   Co-chair  Frank responded                 
  affirmatively, voicing  his  understanding  that  the  legal                 
  issue relates to  whether or not the  Governor has authority                 
  to open the road.                                                            
                                                                               
  Senator   Frank  next  referred   to  past  intent  language                 
  suggesting that the  Dept. of  Transportation work with  oil                 
  industry lease-holders to provide access "all the way to the                 
  Arctic Ocean in a way that met their security needs . . . ."                 
  Co-chair  Pearce advised  of an existing  commercial tourism                 
  business  in Deadhorse.   The  visitor center owned  by ARCO                 
  received over  6,000 visitors  last year.   Two  enterprises                 
  (one  operated  by NANA  Regional Corporation  and one  by a                 
  private contractor  in Fairbanks) provide a  commercial tour                 
  by minivan from Deadhorse to oil industry facilities and the                 
  Arctic Ocean.                                                                
                                                                               
  Senator Lincoln reiterated  that both the Tanana  Chiefs and                 
  North Slope Borough remain opposed to the opening.  She next                 
  directed attention  to  February  26,  1993,  correspondence                 
  (copy on file  in the permanent  Senate Finance file for  SB
  82) from Ron Somerville, Deputy  Commissioner, Dept. of Fish                 
  and Game, and noted the following:                                           
                                                                               
       Opening this portion of the  Dalton Highway to the                      
       public  will increase  use of  the  Dalton Highway                      
       Corridor and  areas  accessible from  the road  by                      
       non-local residents and nonresidents  for hunting,                      
       fishing, and possibly trapping.                                         
                                                                               
                             . . .                                             
                                                                               
       Increasing  public use  will require  or encourage                      
       development  of  new  and  expansion  of  existing                      
       facilities to serve highway travelers.                                  
                                                                               
  There  is  thus no  question  that  once the  road  is open,                 
  increased impact will occur.  Co-chair Pearce responded that                 
  although  a  portion of  the  road  is now  closed,  lack of                 
  enforcement of that  closure has  essentially resulted in  a                 
  completely open  road  for  which  the state  is  unable  to                 
  utilize federal highway  moneys.   Only official opening  of                 
  the  road through statute will  allow use of federal highway                 
  dollars  for  maintenance  of  a  primary artery  for  state                 
  revenues.  She suggested that the state may actually be more                 
  liable  now  than it  will be  once  the road  is completely                 
  opened.  Senator Lincoln countered by advising that the road                 
  does not now  experience the traffic  flow it will once  the                 
  public knows  that the  entire road  is open.   The  current                 
  public perception is that it is not an open road.                            
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Comments followed by  Senator Frank regarding the  number of                 
  recreational  vehicles  visiting the  state  as a  whole and                 
  Fairbanks  in particular.   He suggested of  the 14,500 each                 
  year, approximately  80% visit Fairbanks and perhaps 10%  to                 
  20% would travel the haul road.  The average stay of highway                 
  travelers is  14 days.  A trip up  the Dalton and back would                 
  add another 4 days.  Co-chair  Frank acknowledged that there                 
  would be traffic impact, advising:                                           
                                                                               
       I wouldn't be trying to get  it opened if I didn't                      
       think there'd be some positive  tourism impact.  I                      
       don't think it will be significant.  I don't think                      
       it will  be 14,000.   That's  for sure.   I  think                      
       it'll be more like 1,400, maybe, additional.                            
                                                                               
  In response  to a  question from  Senator Kerttula,  Senator                 
  Frank noted that hunting and fishing, with the  exception of                 
  bow and arrow,  are prohibited  within a five-mile  corridor                 
  along each side of the road.  That is a protection this road                 
  enjoys that other state roads do not.                                        
                                                                               
  Senator Lincoln said  that she  frequently drives the  road.                 
  She stressed  that it is  extremely dangerous.   Rampart has                 
  had very few legal moose "because it looks like the New York                 
  Freeway when moose season opens."  Resources in the area are                 
  significantly  impacted.    She  referenced  the  previously                 
  mentioned  environmental assessment and noted a proposed re-                 
  routing of the highway to lessen  the impact.  That would be                 
  costly.                                                                      
                                                                               
  In   her   closing   remarks,   Senator  Lincoln   expressed                 
  appreciation to  Co-chair Frank  and his  staff for  working                 
  with her office on the issue.                                                
                                                                               
  Co-chair Pearce called  for additional  testimony on SB  82.                 
  None  was  forthcoming.    She  then referenced  the  Senate                 
  Transportation  Committee  version of  the  bill as  well as                 
  fiscal  notes from the Dept. of Fish  and Game, SFC note for                 
  the Dept. of Public Safety, and zero notes from the Dept. of                 
  Natural Resources and the Dept. of Transportation and Public                 
  Facilities.   Senator Kelly  voiced  understanding that  the                 
  letter of intent  earlier mentioned by Co-chair  Frank would                 
  be  offered  on the  Floor of  the  Senate.   Co-chair Frank                 
  concurred.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Senator  Kerttula   voiced  concern  that   the  bill  would                 
  ultimately cost much  more than fiscal notes  indicate.  Co-                 
  chair Frank questioned the credibility of the original Dept.                 
  of  Public  Safety  note.   Co-chair  Pearce  suggested that                 
  pressure on  fish and game resources along the highway comes                 
  from Alaskans  rather than  tourists.   The SFC  fiscal note                 
  acknowledges  that  in  provision   of  the  three  seasonal                 
  positions.                                                                   
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Kelly said he had not  supported opening the road in                 
  the past.   The proposal  is more palatable at  this time in                 
  light of new ISTEA funding which would replace state general                 
  funds with federal dollars.                                                  
                                                                               
  Senator  Sharp  voiced his  belief  that Co-chair  Frank has                 
  responsibly  addressed  potential impact  and  the  need for                 
  additional brown shirts to  cover high-pressure hunting  and                 
  fishing seasons.                                                             
                                                                               
  Co-chair Frank MOVED that CSSB  82 (TRA) pass from committee                 
  with accompanying fiscal  notes from  DOTPF, DNR, DF&G,  and                 
  the SFC note for the Dept. of Public Safety.  Senator Rieger                 
  inquired concerning the amount of the Dept. of Fish and Game                 
  note.   Co-chair Frank  explained that  the requested  $16.1                 
  would provide a  seasonal fish  and wildlife technician  III                 
  for three  months to  monitor hunting  activities along  the                 
  road.  No objection  to passage having been raised,  CSSB 82                 
  (TRA)  was REPORTED OUT of  committee with zero fiscal notes                 
  from  the  Dept.  of  Natural Resources  and  the  Dept.  of                 
  Transportation and Public Facilities, a  $16.1 note from the                 
  Dept. of Fish and  Game, and a $99.0 SFC note  for the Dept.                 
  of Public Safety.   Co-chairs Frank and Pearce and  Senators                 
  Jacko and Sharp signed the committee report with a "do pass"                 
  recommendation.  Senators Kelly, Kerttula, and Rieger signed                 
  "no rec."                                                                    
                                                                               
  ANNOUNCEMENT                                                                 
                                                                               
  Co-chair Pearce announced  that the committee would  meet at                 
  9:00 a.m. March 23, 1993, to discuss a committee  substitute                 
  for supplemental funding (SB 100) as  well as SB 112 and  SB
  149, relating respectively to  universal commercial code and                 
  banking code revisions.                                                      
                                                                               
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  The meeting was adjourned at approximately 10:40 a.m.                        
                                                                               

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