Legislature(1995 - 1996)
01/24/1996 03:35 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SRES 1/24/96 SB 190 RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT/STATE LAND AUCTION SENATOR LEMAN announced an at-ease from 4:10 p.m. to 4:12 p.m. and announced SB 190 . SENATOR TAYLOR, Sponsor of SB 190, said the purpose of this bill is to make certain that Alaskans have first option at purchasing our State lands, those lands that are residential and recreational in nature. He filed the bill as a response to what occurred this summer when people were attempting to "sell the Alaskan mystique." The Alaska Tourism Marketing Council had advertised on the Internet for people to come up and buy land. Looking at the actual bids, he found there was a resident of Fairbanks who submitted a bid on State land, only to be outbid by a resident of Washington state by $61.80. A couple from Wasilla lost their chance to own a piece of Alaska to a Minnesota woman, because she outbid them by $442. An Anchorage woman lost out to a man from Michigan for $214. SENATOR TAYLOR said he didn't think the revenue was significant enough to justify to him turning down Alaskans who might want a chance of owning a piece of the State that they live in. He thought they should be allowed first option. He thought establishing sufficient residency for the Permanent Fund would be good to use for this purpose. SENATOR TAYLOR provided the Committee with an amendment saying that this bill does not interfere with commercial sales, the development of agriculture, or the development of industries. His "purpose is to allow Alaskan individuals to own residential land and recreational land, and not to impede the development of an economy," he said. Number 501 SENATOR TAYLOR moved to adopt the amendment. He explained that it removed the restriction on commercial, industrial, or agricultural land being available to only Alaskans. SENATOR HALFORD objected for a question. SENATOR HALFORD said he understood the industrial and commercial exemption, but didn't understand the agricultural. He did not want to see the agricultural opportunities advertised outside, in farm journals particularly, with such a pattern of subsidy. SENATOR TAYLOR said the concern comes from the agricultural community who said SB 190 was very restrictive, because frequently in the history of Alaska, farms have been developed by people from outside Alaska. Many other enterprises, like barley, came in from outside the State. His concern was for the fellow who lives here who wants to buy the adjoining 40 acres to his already established parcel. Should he have to compete against outside agricultural purposes. Number 540 RON SWANSON, Deputy Director, Division of Lands, said there already is a preference right. If you are an adjoining agricultural land owner, you do have the preference to the adjacent parcel. You would have to meet the high bid to get it, though. MR. SWANSON said Alaskans should have the opportunity to obtain lands first. Of the almost 500 parcels that were available for disposal, 287 of them have been sold to date. The others are still available over-the-counter about a week and a half ago. He said the land in Southeast has particularly high interest. SENATOR LINCOLN said she was also concerned about adding the agricultural lands. She wanted to see any agricultural lands in the future, whether it is an individual with adjacent land, she would like to see it go to an Alaskan, first. She was puzzled with the fiscal note of $5,000 for residency verification. MR. SWANSON said to date the residency requirement for homesteading is an affidavit for residency on the application which has to be notarized by a postmaster. Unless there is a question by someone, they do not verify the information. If the intent of the bill is to find out if the individual is truly a resident, they would have to take that extra step. SENATOR LINCOLN said she couldn't see why it would cost so much with today's technology to verify against a Permanent Fund application. Number 586 TAPE 96-5, SIDE B Number 590 SENATOR FRANK asked for the logic behind exempting industrial and commercial land. SENATOR TAYLOR explained that primarily there is a market. That market is determined by the business you're in, not necessarily by State boundaries. We have never excluded based on residency before in those areas, nor have we on the residential or recreational. He is beginning a process of providing some exclusion. SENATOR FRANK asked if we sell commercial land much. MR. SWANSON answered that the State doesn't sell commercial land; that it is leased. This is still considered "disposal." Number 575 CHARLES FORCK, Delta Junction, supported SB 190 and the proposed amendment. The residency requirement for agriculture is counterproductive to agricultural development. "Agricultural expertise is in short supply in Alaska, as are people who want to do the work. Also, capital is in short supply for development." SENATOR TAYLOR noted for the record that on line 11 the word "proceeding" should be changed to "preceding." Number 544 SENATOR HALFORD said he wanted to differentiate between the high value, high popularity, small, agricultural parcels where there are plenty of residents and a lot of people competing for them and the big farms that require the outside expertise. He thought the agricultural auction could be advertised across the country and the reaction of the local people would be exactly the same thing in as in Southeast, when people lost parcels to outsiders. MR. SWANSON agreed that there could be a problem and suggested that a possible solution would be to leave the agricultural resident/non-resident decision up to the commissioner who would make a best-interest-finding of which way to do it. SENATOR LEMAN asked if that's the way it is done now. MR. SWANSON replied, no, that currently all land is available to residents and non- residents. That is the purpose of this amendment. The prequalification language for agricultural land currently in law is for financial reasons, not inability to develop agricultural parcels. SENATOR TAYLOR said he would be willing to work with Senator Halford and Mr. Swanson for a solution. If they can't find a solution, he thought it better to leave the law as it's been for the last 20 years. MR. SWANSON said the bill they passed Monday, dealing with agricultural lands, deleted the prequalification requirements. If that passes, the Department would have no ability to screen out who does not qualify. He said he would be happy to work with the two Senators on a solution. SENATOR LEMAN asked if there were any other objections to amendment He noted the change of "proceeding" on line 11 to "preceding." SENATOR PEARCE moved to pass SB 190 am from committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal note. There were no objections and it was so ordered.