Legislature(1995 - 1996)

06/06/1996 11:23 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 1001(FIN)                                              
       An   Act  making   appropriations   relating  to   fire                 
       suppression,  cleanup,  and  response and  to  disaster                 
       relief; and providing for an effective date.                            
       Discussion was had with Nancy Slagle  and Nico Bus.  An                 
       amendment  by  Senator  Sharp  reduced disaster  relief                 
       funding in Sec.  3 to $100.0.  SCS CSHB  1001 (Fin) was                 
       then REPORTED  OUT of  committee with  a unanimous  "do                 
       pass" recommendation.                                                   
  Co-chairman Halford directed that CSHB 1001 (Fin) be brought                 
  on  for  discussion  and  explained  that it  contains  fire                 
  response  and  disaster  portions  of  legislation   earlier                 
  transmitted to the House. He  noted that numbers within CSHB
  1001 (Fin) are the same as in the other legislation,  and he                 
  asked that the administration provide an update.                             
  NANCY  SLAGLE,   Director  of   Budget  Review,  Office   of                 
  Management and Budget, came before committee.  She explained                 
  that the bill  contains estimates of anticipated  fire costs                 
  as of two days  ago.  Since that time, the  Big Lake (Miller                 
  Reach) fire  has jumped several  roads and expanded  to over                 
  37,500 square acres.   The estimate  of the number of  homes                 
  destroyed  ranges  from  100 to  200.    There  has been  no                 
  opportunity to conduct an assessment to determine the extent                 
  of damages.  It is anticipated that will occur tomorrow when                 
  borough, state, and  FEMA representatives  are in the  area.                 
  Estimates  developed  by  the  Dept.  of  Natural  Resources                 
  indicate need for double  the amount originally anticipated,                 
  due to the extent of the fire and the way it is traveling.                   
  (Senator Phillips arrived at this time.)                                     
  The state has received approval from FEMA for  assistance in                 
  dealing  with the fire and anticipates a 70/30 split between                 
  federal and state  governments.  The  state is estimating  a                 
  $20 to $25 million need.                                                     
  Ms. Slagle attested to need to put  six teams on the fire at                 
  Central in  an effort  to control  it.   Because of  ongoing                 
  fires  that  do   not  fall   under  FEMA  assistance,   the                 
  administration  will  need  approximately   $10  million  in                 
  general funds and  $15 million in  federal moneys.  That  is                 
  the Dept. of Natural Resources' portion.                                     
  Ms. Slagle reiterated  that since an assessment  has not yet                 
  been made,  impact  upon the  Dept. of  Military &  Veterans                 
  Affairs is unknown.  Numbers in that area have thus not been                 
  At the request of Senator Rieger, Ms. Slagle reiterated need                 
  for $10 million in general funds  and $15 million in federal                 
  moneys.  She explained that the foregoing does not reflect a                 
  70/30 split because  the state is  dealing with other  fires                 
  that do not come under FEMA assistance.  She reiterated need                 
  to  deal  with  other fires  and  again  cited  the fire  at                 
  Co-chairman Halford voiced  his understanding that emergency                 
  fire  suppression  language  provides  authority  to  expend                 
  moneys without appropriation.   Ms.  Slagle concurred.   She                 
  acknowledged  that  as  part  of  the  disaster  declaration                 
  process  the  administration  has  ability  to  access other                 
  appropriations  if  the  legislature  is  not  available  to                 
  provide   supplemental   funding.      In   the   past   the                 
  administration has  established an  agreement that  utilizes                 
  anticipated  lapse  funding  to ensure  an  appropriation to                 
  continue the effort and pay fire fighters.   That is how the                 
  administration deals with the  situation during the interim.                 
  Co-chairman Halford advised that the legislation most likely                 
  to pass  (SB 1005) contains  numbers from two days  ago.  He                 
  acknowledged that the chance of CSHB 1001  (Fin) being acted                 
  upon, as  well, may be difficult.  He said it is appropriate                 
  to  amend the  House  bill to  provide  updated numbers  but                 
  reiterated  that  the bill  might not  be  timely.   The Co-                 
  chairman  remarked  that  SB  1005,  with its  $14  million,                 
  combined with  general authority  for emergency  expenditure                 
  without appropriation provides tools for immediate response.                 
  Supplementals  would then  have to  be reviewed  at  a later                 
  time.  Ms. Slagle agreed.   She attested to an understanding                 
  of the  process  and timing  involved and  advised that  the                 
  administration  felt  it  important  to  come  forward  with                 
  updated numbers.                                                             
  Co-chairman  Halford observed that  funding provided  to the                 
  municipality is "now  way under what their  unrefunded costs                 
  are going  to  be .  . .  ."   He  then  suggested that  the                 
  committee   incorporate   current   estimates,    with   the                 
  recognition that HB 1001 may not be a vehicle that proceeds.                 
  Co-chairman Halford next  explained that if CSHB  1001 (Fin)                 
  remains as is, Secs. 1 and 2 would add another $5 million in                 
  both general and federal funds; an  additional $200.0 to the                 
  Matanuska-Susitna Borough; and $4 million in disaster relief                 
  (Sec.  3)  to  SB 1005.    He  then  questioned whether  the                 
  committee wished to  add funding for disaster relief at this                 
  time.  He suggested  that the bill be passed  from committee                 
  with Secs.  1 and 2 in tact and  assume that both bills will                 
  pass.   Ms. Slagle  added  that the  administration has  the                 
  ability to  go to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee                 
  for additional federal receipt authority.                                    
  Senator  Sharp then  MOVED  to delete  Sec. 3.   Co-chairman                 
  Halford called  for objections.   No  objection having  been                 
  raised, Sec. 3 was DELETED* from the bill.  (*See page 6, of                 
  these minutes for subsequent action rescinding deletion.)                    
  Senator Randy Phillips  MOVED for passage  of SCS CSHB  1001                 
  (Fin) with individual recommendations.  Co-chairman  Halford                 
  called   for   objections.     Senator  Rieger   voiced  his                 
  recollection that the split on the Koyukuk floor was greater                 
  than 70/30.   He  then asked  why the  split in  federal and                 
  state  funding  is not  higher for  the  present fire.   Co-                 
  chairman  Halford  explained that  the  appropriation within                 
  Sec. 1 applies to  "the actual fire fighting side."   Moneys                 
  for the  Koyukuk  flood related  to disaster  relief.   That                 
  split was 85/15--much higher than  in the present situation.                 
  (Senators Donley and Zharoff arrived at this time.)                          
  Ms. Slagle  further explained  that the  state has  received                 
  FEMA  funding, based on the  70/30 split, for fire fighting.                 
  The administration is also requesting a disaster declaration                 
  from President Clinton which would access additional funding                 
  similar  to that  received  for  the  Koyukuk flood.    That                 
  provides  moneys for  temporary  housing, individual  family                 
  grants, public assistance, etc.  It also entails a different                 
  split in funding.   The administration is in the  process of                 
  putting that request together for transmittal to Washington,                 
  D.C.  Approval would change the split to 75/25.                              
  In the case  of the Koyukuk flood, because of  the extent of                 
  damages and the size of the disaster,  the state was able to                 
  obtain a better split between federal and state support.                     
  Under FEMA provisions,  if fire fighting costs  for the year                 
  exceed  $30 million, the  federal government  will "actually                 
  kick in 100  percent."  There is  thus a point in  time when                 
  the federal  government will provide  additional funding due                 
  to the size and extent of the disaster.                                      
  Senator  Rieger  asked  if FEMA  funding  would  provide 100                 
  percent in  excess of  $30 million  or apply  retroactively.                 
  Ms.  Slagle  responded,  "for  the  whole  . .  .  for  this                 
  particular fire."   The Senator noted that  damage estimates                 
  are between $20 and  $30 million at  the present time.   Ms.                 
  Slagle concurred, advising of estimates of approximately $22                 
  million.  The  administration is hoping damages will  not be                 
  greater than that.                                                           
  Senator Rieger asked  what the administration would  do with                 
  the general  funds if damages reach beyond  $30 million, and                 
  the federal government covers the entire amount.  Ms. Slagle                 
  said  general  fund dollars  would  be  used for  fires  not                 
  covered by FEMA.   Remaining  funds would then  lapse.   The                 
  funds would not be used for  other purposes.  Senator Rieger                 
  voiced  need for "some kind of legislative review" and cited                 
  review  by  Legislative   Budget  and  Audit.     He  voiced                 
  discomfort over appropriation  of $10 million when  the cost                 
  may be covered by the federal government and reiterated need                 
  for legislative involvement.   Ms. Slagle stressed  that the                 
  administration  would  keep the  legislature  updated.   She                 
  advised that she would be attending  the June 24 LBA meeting                 
  and would provide an update at  that time.  Senator Phillips                 
  concurred  that   the   legislature  could   ask  that   the                 
  administration  update LBA  at monthly  meetings during  the                 
  Co-chairman Halford  acknowledged  need  for  some  kind  of                 
  statement  within  appropriation  language.    He  expressed                 
  concern that damages from the present MatSu fire would reach                 
  $30  million,   and   the  legislature   will   have   over-                 
  appropriated.  Senator Rieger  suggested that language could                 
  designate  expenditure  for a  particular  named fire.   Ms.                 
  Slagle reiterated that general funds are slated to deal with                 
  other ongoing  fires  as  well as  fires  that  might  occur                 
  throughout the year.   Members acknowledged the  driest year                 
  in two decades and potential for a bad year for fires.                       
  NICO BUS, Acting Director, Administrative Services, Dept. of                 
  Natural Resources, came  before committee.  He  advised that                 
  of damages from  the Miller Reach  fire, which have  reached                 
  $22  million, $15 million (70 percent)  would be federal and                 
  the state portion would total $7  million.  The remaining $3                 
  million from  the $10  million appropriation  would have  to                 
  cover  the   remainder  of  the   fire  season.     Mr.  Bus                 
  acknowledged   that  language   could   be   added  to   the                 
  appropriation  to  require  Miller  Reach reimbursement  for                 
  general funds to  return to the  treasury.  All figures  are                 
  merely estimates at this time.                                               
  Senator Zharoff attested  to the  devastating nature of  the                 
  fire  and  loss  of homes  and  property  by  families.   He                 
  questioned committee concern  that fire suppression  funding                 
  might be spent for other purposes and spoke against attempts                 
  to tie the hands of the administration.  Co-chairman Halford                 
  pointed out that the administration has testified that there                 
  is no limit  to the amount of money it can spend, without an                 
  appropriation,  under existing  emergency conditions.   With                 
  one-third  of  the nation's  top  task force  headed  to the                 
  Miller Reach fire, the  concern is that if the  weather does                 
  not change, the fire cannot be stopped.                                      
  Senator Rieger stressed that two points need to be made:                     
       1.   No one is suggesting that money be held back.                      
       2.   Debate relates to how the money is appropriated.                   
  The proposed approach  recently led to a  Legislative Budget                 
  and Audit report on the $70 Koyukuk flood.  He stressed need                 
  for good  control of  finances in  management of  disasters.                 
  The  legislature  also  has  a  fiduciary responsibility  to                 
  appropriate moneys properly.                                                 
  Co-chairman Halford  noted that the bill  presently consists                 
  of  Secs. 1  and 2.   He then  queried members  regarding an                 
  amendment  and  voiced  need  to move  the  bill.    Senator                 
  Phillips suggested that the  bill be moved, as is,  with the                 
  understanding that  the  administration  would  come  before                 
  Legislative Budget and Audit with  updates on the situation.                 
  Mr. Bus  said the  department could  make update  to LBA  or                 
  provide a statement of intent in writing.                                    
  Senator Sharp voiced his understanding  that the $10 million                 
  appropriation within Sec. 1 would be controlled by the Dept.                 
  of Natural Resources which has long-standing  procedures for                 
  monitoring and detailing costs.  He remarked that because of                 
  that, the state should not encounter a situation  similar to                 
  the Koyukuk  flood which  was administered by  the Dept.  of                 
  Military &  Veterans Affairs.   He  said he was  comfortable                 
  with Legislative Budget and Audit review.                                    
  Co-chairman Halford restated the motion  for movement of SCS                 
  CSHB 1001  (Fin) with  individual recommendations.   Senator                 
  Phillips  added the  understanding  that the  administration                 
  would come before Legislative Budget and  Audit to provide a                 
  detailed accounting.   No objection having been  raised, SCS                 
  CSHB  1001  (Fin) was  REPORTED  OUT*  of  committee with  a                 
  unanimous  "do  pass"   recommendation.    (*See   following                 
  rescinding action.)                                                          
  The meeting was adjourned at approximately 11:55 a.m.                        
  Co-chairman Halford reconvened the  meeting at approximately                 
  11:57 a.m.   He  noted that  the  title of  CSHB 1001  (Fin)                 
  contains a reference  to disaster  relief funding which  was                 
  removed from SCS CSHB 1001 (Fin)  by deletion of Sec. 3 from                 
  the House  bill.  To  avoid need for  a title change  and an                 
  accompanying  resolution  at  this   point  in  the  special                 
  session, the Co-chairman  suggested that the bill  contain a                 
  nominal  appropriation to  disaster relief.   Senator  Sharp                 
  MOVED to bring  CSHB 1001 (Fin)  back before committee.   No                 
  objection having been  raised, it was  so ordered.   Senator                 
  Rieger then MOVED to rescind  committee action reporting SCS                 
  CSHB  1001 (Fin) from  committee.  No  objection having been                 
  raised, committee action reporting SCS  CSHB 1001 (Fin) from                 
  committee was rescinded.   Senator Sharp MOVED to amend  his                 
  motion  for deletion  of Sec.  3 and  instead fund  disaster                 
  relief  at  $100.0.   No objection  having been  raised, the                 
  motion carried and Sec. 3 was funded at $100.0.  Co-chairman                 
  Frank  MOVED  for  passage  of  SCS  CSHB 1001  (Fin).    No                 
  objection  having  been  raised,  SCS  CSHB 1001  (Fin)  was                 
  REPORTED  OUT  of  committee  with  a  unanimous  "do  pass"                 
  The meeting was adjourned at approximately 12:00 noon.                       

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