Legislature(2005 - 2006)SENATE FINANCE 532

04/20/2006 09:00 AM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SCS CSHB 471(FIN) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Moved CSSB 188(FIN) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 471(FIN) am                                                                                          
     "An Act amending the Knik  Arm Bridge and Toll Authority Act                                                               
     and the  powers and  authority of  the authority  to finance                                                               
     construction and maintenance of the  Knik Arm Bridge, to set                                                               
     and  collect  tolls,  and  to  carry  out  its  duties;  and                                                               
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
This was  the first hearing for  this bill in the  Senate Finance                                                               
Co-Chair Green noted  that a committee substitute  was before the                                                               
Co-Chair Wilken  moved to adopt committee  substitute Version 24-                                                               
LS1670\L as the working document.                                                                                               
Co-Chair  Green announced  that the  Senate version  (SB 303)  of                                                               
this  bill  had  previously  reported   from  Committee  and  was                                                               
currently in  the Senate Rules  Committee. However, the  House of                                                               
Representatives (House)  made "substantive" changes to  the House                                                               
companion bill, and, as a  result, Senate Rules has requested the                                                               
Committee  consider the  House version  of the  bill. The  bill's                                                               
sponsor would  discuss the changes  contained in the  Version "L"                                                               
committee substitute.                                                                                                           
9:08:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BILL STOLTZE, the  bill's sponsor, shared with the                                                               
Committee his long-term involvement with  the Knik Arm Bridge and                                                               
Toll Authority  (KABATA) project. This legislation  would further                                                               
"a  commitment"  to   provide  "the  details  of   the  plan  and                                                               
mechanisms" that  was made after  the initial  KABATA legislation                                                               
was adopted. He  explained the two changes the House  made to the                                                               
bill: the first removed the  State's ability to attach a person's                                                               
Permanent  Fund  Dividend  (PFD)  to address  unpaid  fines.  The                                                               
second eliminated  language pertaining  to the  issuance, renewal                                                               
or  reinstatement of  drivers'  licenses.  These provisions  were                                                               
removed in  order to focus  the bill  on the construction  of the                                                               
bridge.   He  had   been  uncomfortable   with  the   amount  "of                                                               
government" in  the original  bill and thought  it "best  to take                                                               
those provisions out".                                                                                                          
Co-Chair   Green  referred   the   Committee  to   Representative                                                               
Stoltze's Sectional  Analysis of the  bill [copy on  file], which                                                               
further explained the changes in the committee substitute.                                                                      
Representative   Stoltze  continued   to   explain  the   changes                                                               
contained  in  Version  "L",   characterizing  a  bill  amendment                                                               
adopted "on the  fly in a careless fashion" during  a House floor                                                               
session  as   "innocuous".  The  amendment  would   have  limited                                                               
KABATA's  authority  and  would   have  served  to  restrict  its                                                               
function.  The  initial  authority  provided  to  KABATA  by  the                                                               
Legislature would allow it to  interact with outside business and                                                               
the  financial market  without  any  politicizing. The  amendment                                                               
adopted on the House floor re-injected political involvement.                                                                   
Co-Chair Green  asked whether the  language being  referenced was                                                               
located in  Section 1(a)(18) page 3,  line 29 of the  House bill,                                                               
Version 24-LS1670\I.A.                                                                                                          
Representative Stoltze affirmed.                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green thereby  noted that  Version "L"  eliminated that                                                               
language, as  it was "directly  contrary to the function  and the                                                               
role  of the  Toll Authority  itself". Version  "L" would  retain                                                               
KABATA's  authority and  not require  the Governor's  approval of                                                               
its actions.                                                                                                                    
Representative Stoltze concurred.                                                                                               
Co-Chair  Green  noted that  Version  "L"  retained language  the                                                               
House  added to  Section 1(a)(18)  page 3,  line 31,  which would                                                               
affirm that  KABATA's powers of  eminent domain would  not exceed                                                               
those of the State.                                                                                                             
Senator  Green   reiterated  that  action  taken   in  the  House                                                               
eliminated the ability  of KABATA to place "a  lien" on someone's                                                               
PFD were they "in violation of something at the Toll".                                                                          
9:12:31 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Stoltze   reminded  that  the  garnishing   of  a                                                               
person's PFD is a provision  commonly exercised by municipalities                                                               
in regards  to such things as  unpaid fines. However, due  to the                                                               
fact  that  any reference  or  inclusion  of language  about  the                                                               
Permanent  Fund or  the Permanent  Fund Dividend  tends to  "mire                                                               
down" and "confuse"  an issue, it was his desire  to exclude that                                                               
provision from the  bill in order to focus on  building a bridge.                                                               
Omitting the PFD attachment would  not hinder KABATA's functions;                                                               
"it could collect unpaid tolls in another fashion".                                                                             
9:13:12 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Green asked whether this  was also the reason behind the                                                               
decision  to exclude  language  addressing individuals'  drivers'                                                               
licenses or vehicle  registrations in regards to  unpaid tolls or                                                               
other violations.                                                                                                               
Representative Stoltze affirmed.                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  understood  the  difference  between  committee                                                               
substitute  Version  "L"  and  the  House  version,  Version  24-                                                               
LS1670\I.A was the deletion of the authority of the Governor.                                                                   
Co-Chair Green affirmed.                                                                                                        
Co-Chair Wilken asked  for confirmation that the  words "or money                                                               
that  the legislature  may appropriate"  as specified  in Section                                                               
1(a)(12) page  3, line  15 would  "not obligate  the State  to be                                                               
supporter  or  the  court  of  last resort"  were  there  a  bond                                                               
9:14:30 AM                                                                                                                    
WILLIAM  GREEN,  Project  Counsel,   Knik  Arm  Bridge  and  Toll                                                               
Authority, affirmed  the language  would "not obligate  the State                                                               
to do anything  nor" would it obligate the  State's general fund.                                                               
It mirrors  "similar provisions included in  other titles dealing                                                               
with similar facilities.  It is simply there  to acknowledge that                                                               
if  the Legislature  desired to  appropriate monies  it may,  but                                                               
it's no obligated to."                                                                                                          
9:15:18 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Wilken  communicated concerns expressed by  residents in                                                               
the State about  the Knik Arm Bridge, the  Gravina Island Bridge,                                                               
and  the access  road  out  of Juneau  in  regards  to how  those                                                               
projects might impact the National  Highway System (NHWS) funding                                                               
the  State  would  receive  over  the  next  several  years.  The                                                               
Administration  has been  requested  to develop  a five-year  pro                                                               
forma to  address how those projects  would be funded as  well as                                                               
how the NHWS funding would be  dispersed on a statewide basis. To                                                               
that  point,  he   asked  Mr.  Green  whether  he   has  been  in                                                               
communication with the Administration in this regard.                                                                           
Mr. Green  disclosed that some preliminary  discussions had taken                                                               
place.  He   deferred  to  the  Administration   to  provide  the                                                               
conclusions of the discussions.                                                                                                 
9:16:22 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Stedman opined that the  five-year pro forma would assist                                                               
in  furthering   the  interpretation   of  the   federal  Highway                                                               
Authorization   bill,   Safe   Accountable   Flexible   Efficient                                                               
Transportation Equity  Act: A Legacy  for Users  (SAFETEA-LU). He                                                               
suggested that, when the final  plan is developed, the discussion                                                               
could include SAFETEA-LU funding.                                                                                               
There being  no objection, the  Version "L"  committee substitute                                                               
was ADOPTED as the working document.                                                                                            
Co-Chair  Wilken moved  to report  the bill  from Committee  with                                                               
individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                       
There being  no objection, SCS  CS HB 471(FIN) was  REPORTED from                                                               
Committee with  two previous  zero fiscal  notes: Fiscal  note #1                                                               
dated January 22,  2006 from the Department  of Natural Resources                                                               
and fiscal  note #2 dated  March 1,  2006 from the  Department of                                                               
Transportation and Public Facilities.                                                                                           
Senator  Hoffman  asked  whether   it  is  anticipated  that  the                                                               
Administration's  response to  the  request for  a five-year  pro                                                               
forma  would be  provided prior  to Senate  floor action  on this                                                               
Co-Chair Green  understood otherwise,  as the primary  concern is                                                               
not specific to this legislation.                                                                                               
Co-Chair Wilken  agreed that this  legislation is "a part  of the                                                               
whole  picture",  however, not  to  the  point that  this  bill's                                                               
progression  should  be  halted.  Continuing,  he  shared  having                                                               
recently sent  a memorandum to  Department of  Transportation and                                                               
Public Facilities  Commissioner Mike Barton reminding  him of the                                                               
specifics of the request.                                                                                                       

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