Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/16/1995 01:40 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SL&C 3/16/95                                                                  
            SB 108 ALASKA TOURISM MARKETING COUNCIL                           
                                                                              
 CHAIRMAN KELLY called the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee                 
 meeting to order at 1:40 p.m. and announced SB 108 to be up for               
 consideration.                                                                
                                                                               
 MARY JACKSON  Legislative Aide for Senator Torgerson, said SB 108             
 extends the Tourism Marketing Council from December of 1996 to                
 December of 1999 and changes some of the contract terms with the              
 Trade Association to coincide with the revised sunset provision.              
 There is some housekeeping about the authority to sign a contract             
 and it directs the Commissioner to contract with a qualified in-              
 state trade association.  It deletes language regarding out of                
 state travel expenses for association members.                                
                                                                               
 JOHN LITTON, Vice President, Government Affairs, Alaska Visitors              
 Association, said he also sits on the Alaska Tourism Marketing                
 Council and has participated with the Council for the past six                
 years.                                                                        
                                                                               
 MR. LITTON said most of the changes in the language has to do with            
 making the Commissioner more directly responsible for the                     
 contracting authority.  He said he was concerned with the per diem            
 and reimbursement provision.  For example, he traveled on behalf of           
 the Council back to New York meeting with travel editors, which is            
 something they annually do, to try to get stories about Alaska                
 placed in different magazines and newspapers nation-wide.  This is            
 the trip on which he met the president of ABC Network and talked              
 about bringing Good Morning America to Alaska. Shortly, thereafter,           
 there was an audit of their department and it was brought to their            
 attention that reimbursement for his travel to New York was not               
 appropriate.  Travel is specifically supposed to be for in-state              
 council meetings.                                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked how many board members there were.  MR. LITTON            
 replied there was a total of 21 - ten appointed by the Governor,              
 the Director of the Division of Tourism, and 10 that are appointed            
 by the industry.                                                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY said he has a problem with the paragraph on                     
 reimbursing 21 members to travel all over the world by just getting           
 the approval of this trade association.                                       
                                                                               
 BOB DINDINGER, Vice Chairman, Alaska Tourism Marketing Council                
 (ATMC), said originally that provision was in the statute so that             
 the Marketing Council would not have its regular meetings outside             
 the State of Alaska.  SB 108 proposes, not to reimburse members for           
 attending the meetings outside the state, but to reimburse a member           
 who is sent by the council to sell Alaska.  They have no intention            
 of holding meetings outside of Alaska.  He also explained that only           
 the council members appointed by the Governor are reimbursed for              
 attending meetings.  The 10 industry members are never reimbursed             
 at state expense.                                                             
                                                                               
 JEFF BUSH, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Commerce and Economic           
 Development, pointed out that lines 7-9 on page 2 state that if               
 board members appointed by the trade associations receive per diem            
 and travel, the trade association has to reimburse the council for            
 it.                                                                           
                                                                               
 MR. DINDINGER said reauthorization of the ATMC was appropriate in             
 the Labor and Commerce Committee, because it's an issue about jobs            
 - about 27,000 primary Alaskan jobs and over 50,000 total Alaskan             
 jobs.  He said this is the only state sponsored program that                  
 addresses the 92% of Alaska visitors that come from the continental           
 United States and Canada.  It addresses visitor demand by all modes           
 of transportation and the needs of both independent travelers and             
 package tour travelers.  In other words, it is a very generic                 
 program.                                                                      
                                                                               
 The primary vehicle of this program is print advertising which                
 consists of approximately 650,000 names to which the Vacation                 
 Planner is sent.  The Vacation Planner lists over 1,000 Alaskan               
 businesses and the nature of their services.                                  
                                                                               
 He concluded saying that they highly recommend reauthorization of             
 the Marketing Council.  The money is well spent and it is well                
 managed.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 154                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked if the Marketing Council was funded as a line             
 item in the Department of Commerce budget.  MR. DINDINGER replied             
 that was correct and last year it was about $3,800,000 from the               
 general fund with a 25% match from the industry.                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked what trade association they currently had a               
 trade agreement with.  MR. DINDINGER said that the Alaska Visitors            
 Association was the only one that has ever had a joint management             
 agreement with the state.  They are limited to three state                    
 employees.  SENATOR KELLY said he was the one to put that limit in.           
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked if the Marketing Council had the budget in                
 their control.  MR. DINDINGER answered that it was and that it was            
 managed under the state procurement system.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 210                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER noted that over the years he has been a critic of              
 the Alaska Tourism Marketing Council, because they had a tendency             
 to promote just one mode of transportation.  However, he is a co-             
 sponsor of this legislation, because they have done a tremendous              
 job of including all other modes of transportation.                           
                                                                               
 NANCY LETHCOE, President, Alaska Wilderness, Recreation, and                  
 Tourism Association, pointed out that they support reauthorization            
 of ATMC.  They are concerned with the definition of a qualified               
 trade organization, because although the current definition allows            
 without limitation the composition of the ATMC, only those listed             
 specifically are appointed.  Those that are covered by the generic            
 words "without limitation" do not have representation.  She hoped             
 for an amendment with a new definition to fine tune this program to           
 make it better for small Alaskan owned and operated businesses.               
 She also would like to see changes to section c, which is in the              
 House version of this bill, that would give the Governor the                  
 opportunity to appoint more members to ATMC and reduce the number             
 that are from the one trade organization.  She wanted expertise               
 brought to the table from people who are specialists in hunting,              
 sportfishing, wilderness guides and outfitters.                               
                                                                               
 FRED DURE, Adventure Tours, supported reauthorization of ATMC.  He            
 supported Ms. Lethcoe's comments about the definition of a                    
 qualified trade association.  As Alaskan tourism grows, it will be            
 to all of Alaska's benefit to insure that all types of visitors are           
 addressed in the marketing of their destination.                              
                                                                               
 Number 332                                                                    
                                                                               
 TINA LINDGREN, Director, Alaska Visitors Association, supported SB
 108.  She can't see any problem with adding to the definition, but            
 there would still be many segments that would be left out like,               
 gift shops, camp grounds, food and beverage companies, and sight              
 seeing tours.  She pointed out that it is currently part of the law           
 that the Governor shall ensure that appointees are broadly                    
 representative of the different regions of the state and the                  
 various sectors.                                                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked if she currently authorizes travel for AVA                
 board members outside the conventions and such.  MS. LINDGREN                 
 replied that AVA doesn't reimburse their board members for travel.            
 The appointees that AVA has on the ATMC pay their own way to all of           
 the meetings.                                                                 
                                                                               
 MR. BUSH supported SB 108.  He said it's been a successful                    
 partnership and has done a very good job on tourism marketing.  He            
 requested changing "shall" on page 1, line 11, to "may" saying that           
 everyone supported the change.  He explained that the legislature,            
 in passing this legislation, is essentially deciding it is in the             
 best interest of the state to have a cooperative marketing program            
 and they agree.  However, in taking out the best interests                    
 language, there would essentially be no discretion for the                    
 department with respect to entering into this contractual                     
 arrangement.  That language provides the opportunity to negotiate             
 if there is something inappropriate in a contract.                            
                                                                               
 Number 400                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO moved to amend SB 108 on page 1, line 11 to change               
 "shall" to "may."  There were no objections and it was so ordered.            
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY said he still has a problem with allowing board                 
 members to travel around the world when their primary business is             
 tourism.  He thought they should pay for their own travel.                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked Mr. Dindinger if he reimbursed Marketing                  
 Council members for their travel to meetings.                                 
                                                                               
 MR. DINDINGER said the paid staff of ATMC (who are state employees)           
 are reimbursed for their travel to the meetings, as are the                   
 Governor's appointees.  He said all of the board members are                  
 reimbursed for their costs to attend the meetings, but the AVA has            
 to reimburse the state for its appointees.                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO asked what was their budget for out of state travel.             
 MR. DINDINGER said he would have to get that information.                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY asked if the Governor's appointee members had been              
 reimbursed for traveling outside the State of Alaska on these types           
 of jobs.  MR. DINDINGER answered not to his knowledge.  He said               
 when someone is traveling on behalf of the Marketing Council, they            
 don't get to represent their own business.  They can only represent           
 the collective interest of the travel community within Alaska.  He            
 said they do send people out on those kinds of assignments.  The              
 problem is that it is enough of a burden on the private sector                
 people to attend the meetings at their own expense, but when they             
 are asked to dedicate a week to 10 days of their time to travel               
 around the country on the state's behalf and to pay for the travel            
 expense, that's a bit much.  He said they are often not able to get           
 the people they would like to do that.                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY said wasn't that what they had full time employees              
 for.  MR. DINDINGER said some board members had greater depth of              
 experience and better contacts than the employees did.                        
                                                                               
 Number 457                                                                    
                                                                               
 TINA LINDGREN explained what brought this situation about, in                 
 particular, was Good Morning America.  It's very rare that a                  
 council member is asked to do work on behalf of the state.  The way           
 legislation is currently written they can send any person in the              
 state except for members of the council, and reimburse their                  
 travel.  She said their auditors suggested they change the statue,            
 because right now, as it stands, they are inhibiting the council's            
 ability to do the work they have been assigned to do.                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR SALO asked for a ballpark figure how much the change in the           
 statute would cost.  MS. LINDGREN replied that it shouldn't change            
 the budget at all.  Currently, there's $55,000 set aside for travel           
 that probably won't be entirely used.  She guessed they were                  
 talking about a $10,000 for council member travel for one or two              
 trips to New York or the West Coast during a year.                            
                                                                               
 Number 483                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. LITTON clarified that a board member does not have the ability            
 to just decide they want to go and participate in something and               
 come back.  Any travel that is done by a board member has to be               
 approved by the department prior to the travel, like in any other             
 department.                                                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY said he wanted to have more comfort that there                  
 wouldn't be increased travel activity in the future because of the            
 change in this law.                                                           
                                                                               
 SENATOR KELLY said they would hold the bill for amendments on                 
 Tuesday.                                                                      

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