Legislature(2005 - 2006)SENATE FINANCE 532
04/20/2006 09:00 AM FINANCE
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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 Committee. Co-Chair Green noted that a committee substitute was before the Committee. 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 deficiency. 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 bill. 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.