Legislature(1999 - 2000)

04/23/1999 01:46 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            SB 110-PROPERTY ACQUIRED BY GOVT. ENTITY                                                                            
SENATOR GARY WILKEN reminded the committee SB 110 relates to                                                                    
liability of a municipality for foreclosed land. Senator Wilken                                                                 
said the proposed version of the bill is a compromise between the                                                               
Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) and the Department of                                                                       
Environmental Conservation (DEC).                                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN said the new bill applies only to state and local                                                                
governments, and does not apply to the federal government.                                                                      
SENATOR WILKEN stated he reviewed the comments submitted by Mr.                                                                 
Virgil Norton, and concluded Mr. Norton's comments go beyond the                                                                
scope of SB 110.  He does not support incorporating them into this                                                              
bill. He maintained his support for the committee substitute.                                                                   
Number 052                                                                                                                      
MR. VIRGIL NORTON, testifying via teleconference from Anchorage,                                                                
wanted to be sure the committee had received his fax. CHAIRMAN                                                                  
TAYLOR assured him they had. He informed MR. NORTON that the                                                                    
committee substitute before the committee does not include his                                                                  
suggestions, as the sponsor did not want to incorporate these                                                                   
changes into this version.                                                                                                      
MR. NORTON said at issue is the definition of "release," which                                                                  
includes a permitted release or an act of nature. Currently, under                                                              
strict liability, DEC holds property owners liable for releases                                                                 
they had no knowledge of at the time they acquired the property. He                                                             
said under this definition even leaching constitutes a release. MR.                                                             
NORTON commented, "The government does not always take these laws                                                               
and interpret them the way the legislature intended them to be,"                                                                
and this denies an innocent landowner the "innocent landowner                                                                   
Number 158                                                                                                                      
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR assured MR. NORTON the committee had received his                                                               
three amendments.                                                                                                               
MR. NORTON said he understands why the definition of "release" was                                                              
drafted to be broad but the 470 fund, managed properly, could pay                                                               
for cleanup of a contaminated site if the landowner is unavailable                                                              
or cannot pay. MR. NORTON alleged DEC is "a renegade, out-of-                                                                   
control agency."                                                                                                                
Number 178                                                                                                                      
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked why the legislature should limit liability                                                                
for cities and not citizens. SENATOR WILKEN said that was a bigger                                                              
issue he was unwilling to tackle in this bill.                                                                                  
Number 188                                                                                                                      
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR moved amendment #1 suggested by MR. NORTON. The                                                                 
text of the amendment reads:                                                                                                    
               (1) For purposes of determining liability in an                                                                  
     action to recover damages or costs under AS 46.03.822, a                                                                   
     release shall be deemed to have occurred when a hazardous                                                                  
     substance is first introduced into the environment. A                                                                      
     party, other than the party responsible for the initial                                                                    
     release, who has acted responsibly upon discovering                                                                        
     contamination in accordance with (2)(A) & (B) of this                                                                      
     section may not be held liable for the spread or                                                                           
     migration of the hazardous substance except by an act of                                                                   
     intentional misconduct or gross negligence.                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR remarked, "If it's good for the goose, it ought to                                                              
be good for the gander." Without objection, Amendment #1 was                                                                    
Number 200                                                                                                                      
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR moved Amendment #2. The text of the amendment                                                                   
          (9) "release" means any spilling, leaking, pumping,                                                                   
     pouring, emitting, emptying, leaching, dumping or                                                                          
     disposing into the environment, including the abandonment                                                                  
     or discarding of barrels, containers, and other closed                                                                     
     receptacles containing any hazardous substance, but                                                                        
          (A) any release that results in exposure to persons                                                                   
     solely within a workplace, with respect to a claim that                                                                    
     those persons may assert against the persons' employer;                                                                    
          (B) emissions from the engine exhaust of a motor                                                                      
     vehicle, rolling stock, aircraft or vessel:                                                                                
          (C ) An act of nature occurring after the release of                                                                  
     the hazardous substance into the environment.                                                                              
Without objection, Amendment #2 was adopted.                                                                                    
Number 208                                                                                                                      
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR moved Amendment #3. The text of the amendment                                                                   
     *Sec. 4. Adding a new subsection to read amends A.S.                                                                       
          (1) Notwithstanding other provisions of this section                                                                  
     and notwithstanding the definition of "release" in AS                                                                      
     46.03.826, for the purposes of this section, a release is                                                                  
     considered to have occurred when a hazardous substance is                                                                  
     first introduced into the environment, and a person is                                                                     
     not liable for the spread or migration of the hazardous                                                                    
     substance after its initial release if                                                                                     
          (1) The person was not responsible for the initial                                                                    
          (2) The person has satisfied the requirements of                                                                      
     (2)(A), & (B) by acting responsibly after discovery of                                                                     
     the release and                                                                                                            
          (3) Has not caused or increased the spread or                                                                         
     migration through intentional misconduct or gross                                                                          
          (4) The person is a governmental entity that                                                                          
     acquired the facility                                                                                                      
               (A) By escheat, bankruptcy, foreclosure, tax                                                                     
     delinquency, or abandonment;                                                                                               
               (B) [Or] through an [ANOTHER] involuntary                                                                        
     transfer or acquisition:[;] or                                                                                             
               (C ) Through the exercise of eminent domain                                                                      
     authority by purchase or condemnation;                                                                                     
          (3) The person is a corporation organized under 43                                                                    
     U.S.C. 1601-1629e (Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act)                                                                    
     that acquired the facility under those sections;                                                                           
          (4) The person inherited the facility by inheritance or                                                               
     bequest; or                                                                                                                
          (5) The person is a state governmental entity and                                                                     
     the state acquired the property under Public Law 85-508                                                                    
     (Alaska Statehood Act).                                                                                                    
Without objection, Amendment #3 was adopted.                                                                                    
Number 215                                                                                                                      
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR moved to adopt the committee substitute (Version                                                                
K/Cook) and indicated the amendments adopted would be incorporated                                                              
into this committee substitute.  Without objection, the committee                                                               
substitute was adopted.                                                                                                         
SENATOR DONLEY moved CSSB 110 (JUD) from committee with individual                                                              
recommendations. SENATOR ELLIS objected.  The roll was called.                                                                  
Voting to move the bill were SENATOR DONLEY, SENATOR TORGERSON, and                                                             
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR. SENATOR ELLIS was opposed. CSSB 110(JUD) moved                                                                 
from committee with individual recommendations.                                                                                 

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