Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205
04/13/2017 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS
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HB 148-SECOND CLASS BOROUGH SERVICE AREAS 3:40:06 PM CHAIR MEYER announced the consideration of HB 148. He noted that SB 77, sponsored by Senator Micciche, is the companion bill to HB 148. 3:40:32 PM REPRESENTATIVE MIKE CHENAULT, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, sponsor of HB 148, provided an overview as follows: HB 148 would expand the authority of the second-class borough to exercise a local option of creating a non- taxable service area to provide emergency response along state-highway corridors that are not currently covered by any existing emergency-service areas; in particular, this would allow the Kenai Peninsula Borough to establish a service area for coordinated coverage for the almost 90 miles of Sterling and Seward highways that are not within the current existing boundaries of any existing emergency-service areas. REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT referenced a map and noted that the Sterling and Seward highways' area is very highly traveled and currently is semi-serviced with two-volunteer fire departments. He remarked that the voluntary staff is aging, and HB 148 is a good idea on how to fund the noted service area. He explained that the legislation would be implemented by action of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. 3:42:32 PM REPRESENTATIVE GARY KNOPP, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, testified in support of HB 148. He detailed his previous history with the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly as follows: In my time on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, we struggled with volunteer service in the area and as equipment and volunteers aged, we've been running short. So, we've been struggling to find the way to provide medical services as most of you know, and Senator Giessel at one time represented this area, so she's probably familiar with, but it doesn't allow us by law to exercise any type of support because it is outside of the service areas that currently exist, so our hands are somewhat tied in providing support. From January 2015 to December 2016, we serviced 123-medical calls, ambulance calls in that particular area. I'm sure most people have driven that from Cooper Landing to Hope, Seward, and then over the pass to Girdwood, and that's primarily the area we are talking about servicing. 3:44:32 PM CHAIR MEYER opened public testimony. 3:45:00 PM LARRY PERSILY, Chief of Staff to Borough Mayor, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Soldotna, Alaska, testified in support of HB 148. He disclosed that approximately 4000 vehicles traverse the Seward and Sterling highways daily with levels doubling and tripling during the summer peak that results in a lot of accidents. MR. PERSILY explained that the Kenai Peninsula Borough does not have area-wide-emergency-services powers and only in a specific service area that results in a no-service area on the highway right-of-way. He said HB 148 would allow a local option to the six-second-class boroughs around the state via an assembly approval and public vote the ability to create a service area for emergency-response services on highway corridors and state right-of-ways where there are no residents or private property. He detailed that the Kenai Peninsula Borough's mayor would propose to the borough assembly that federal payment-in-lieu-of- taxes (PILT) be used because the highway corridor is mostly federal property. MR. PERSILY summarized that HB 148 would allow the borough assembly a local option to help take care of residents, Alaskans and visitors that use the Sterling and Seward highways year- round. 3:47:02 PM GEORGE PIERCE, representing self, Kasilof, Alaska, testified in opposition of HB 148. He said the state cannot afford new projects. He opined that the bill is a "land grab" by the Kenai Peninsula Borough. He claimed that local-tax dollars outside of the federal money would have to be used to fund the proposed service area. 3:51:40 PM CHAIR MEYER closed public testimony. SENATOR GIESSEL explained that during her time representing the Kenai Peninsula Borough that there was a need for equipment. She asked Representative Chenault if HB 148 would cover the cost of equipment for the volunteer fire departments. REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT noted that Representative Knopp recently served on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and could better address Senator Giessel's question. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP replied that the initial intent is not to purchase any equipment, but conceded that the PILT money could be used in the future to update an ambulance or replace antiquated equipment. He noted that the borough annually receives $2 million to $3 million in PILT dollars and the mayor plans on spending up to 20 percent on the service area. SENATOR GIESSEL concurred with the representatives' comments regarding the aging-volunteer population in the Kenai Peninsula Borough region. She opined that the area has a crisis due to long accident-response times during bad-weather-driving conditions and thanked the two representatives for coming up with a collaborative solution. 3:57:13 PM SENATOR GIESSEL moved to adopt the committee substitute for HB 148, version: 30-LS0597\U as the working document of the committee. CHAIR MEYER objected for discussion purposes. 3:58:00 PM CHRISTINE MARASIGAN, Staff, Senator Meyer, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, explained that the CS combines SB 106 and HB 148. She detailed as follows: Sections 1-3 of SB 106 has been inserted in HB 148 following Section 1. The subsequent sections have been renumbered and it was thought that since both bills deal with local-control issues, that it related to either municipal-tax exemption or non-taxable services, that those two things would go well together; the office did contact the sponsors of both bills and that seemed amenable. CHAIR MEYER removed his objection. SENATOR COGHILL said he appreciated the cooperation of the House members in looking at the issue addressed in HB 148. 3:59:29 PM SENATOR GIESSEL moved to report the CS for HB 148, version: 30- LS0597\U, [SCS HB 148(STA)], from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). CHAIR MEYER announced that seeing no objection, the bill moved out of committee. 3:59:49 PM At ease.