Legislature(2005 - 2006)SENATE FINANCE 532
03/09/2005 09:00 AM Senate FINANCE
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 63(TRA) "An Act relating to road signs encouraging the use of safety belts." This was the first hearing for this bill in the Senate Finance Committee. Co-Chair Wilken noted that the original version of the bill, Version 24-LS0363\G, is before the Committee for consideration. SENATOR BEN STEVENS, the bill's sponsor, expressed that this "simple bill" was developed in response to a constituent's desire to erect a memorial sign near the site of an automobile accident in which a family member's life had been lost. While the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT) has a Memorial Sign Program, its funding is limited to "Don't Drink and Drive" and "Please Drive Safely" signs, and would not accommodate the constituent's desire to erect a sign stating "Buckle Up for Safety". This bill would expand the program to accommodate such wording and allow signs to be placed in the State's right-of-way, "near the location of a traffic fatality that occurred as the result of not wearing a seatbelt". Co-Chair Wilken understood that the family member whose life was lost in the aforementioned traffic accident was a young man named Nathan Kampen. Senator B. Stevens affirmed and noted that he, rather than the family, is requesting that the program be referred to as the Nathan Kampen Act. Co-Chair Wilken clarified that although there is a Senate Transportation Committee committee substitute, the sponsor is requesting that the original version of the bill, Version 24- LS0363\G, be considered. The difference between the two versions is that the Senate Transportation Committee committee substitute removed language in Section 1, page one, line five, that reads as follows. SHORT TITLE. This Act shall be known as the Nathan Kampen Act. Senator B. Stevens affirmed. He noted that although this language was removed in the Senate Transportation committee substitute due to policy issue concerns about Legislative intent and uncodified law, that committee has advised that they would not take issue were this Committee to reinstate that language. Senator Olson observed that the bill is accompanied by a zero fiscal note even thought each sign would cost approximately $500. In addition, he inquired to the process through which a sign would be erected. Senator B. Stevens deferred to DOT to respond to the fiscal note question. The memorial signs would be "by request" to the Department, which would determine whether a sign could be placed in the right of way "without obstructing either traffic or other types of equipment and not to jeopardize the safety of the flow of traffic". Senator Olson asked whether regarding the number of signs that might be placed and how they would be financed. NONA WILSON, Legislative Liaison, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, explained that the application process for requesting a sign would allow for a 30-day Department review period in which the Department would determine whether a sign could be placed at the requested location. Were the request approved, the Department would place the sign in an appropriate place near or at the location of the accident. While the number of signs that might be requested is unknown, funding for the signs would be provided through the existing Memorial Sign Program. Senator Stedman pointed out that the Transportation Committee committee substitute also removed the words "at or near" from the bill in Section 2, page one, line eight. Continuing, he shared that the Department has erected memorials and safety reminder signs at dangerous intersections in his community. That signage has not generated negative public feedback. He also noted that, in his experience, it has been difficult at times to get the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to make improvements to dangerous intersections. Co-Chair Wilken noted that another difference between the versions is that the Senate Transportation Committee committee substitute included the language "at or near the site" in Section 1, page one, line five as compared to language in the original version that specifies "at the site". Senator B. Stevens characterized the language differences as a "grammatical choice" as the bill drafter's usage of the words "at the site" would be defined to allow the signs to be erected at or near the site rather than the more specific "at the exact location of." The objective is to provide the Department "the discretion" to erect the signs where deemed fit. Co-Chair Wilken stated that the bill would be held to reconcile the differences between the two versions. Senator Stedman opined that the Department should "locate the signs as close to the proximity of the accident as possible", as this would be more meaningful. Co-Chair Wilken ordered the bill HELD in Committee.