Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/13/2001 01:33 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                 SB 100-REGULATION OF AERONAUTICS                                                                           
CHAIRMAN  COWDERY stated that  SB 100 was  before the committee  and                                                            
that he  did not intend to  move the bill  today.  He asked  Senator                                                            
Halford, sponsor of SB 100, to present the bill.                                                                                
SENATOR RICK HALFORD explained  that the state air commerce laws are                                                            
primarily  based on a 1960  act that was carried  from the  1927 and                                                            
1939 acts.  Those  laws are out-of-date.  A number  of provisions do                                                            
not apply  and have been  superceded by federal  law or they  are in                                                            
direct conflict with the  current state policy so they have not been                                                            
enforced.   DOTPF did most  of the research  on which provisions  of                                                            
the  statutes  need to  be  repealed.   DOTPF  also  recommended  an                                                            
amendment.   Both a House  and Senate bill  have been introduced  on                                                            
the survival gear provisions.   The existing provisions are not only                                                            
out-of-date,  they  are  impossible  to meet  if  a plane  flies  to                                                            
Canada.  He informed committee  members that the House bill is close                                                            
to passing and  he suggested the contents of SB 100  be added to the                                                            
House bill.                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN  COWDERY repeated  his intention  not to  pass SB 100  from                                                            
committee today.                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON  asked for clarification  of Sections 3, 4  and 5.  He                                                            
noted the sponsor statement  states that Section 3 specifies that an                                                            
airport  must be  public or  if private,  open, for  a person  to be                                                            
charged  with obstructing  the airport  or runway.   He reads  those                                                            
sections  to remove  the provision  under  which an  operator of  an                                                            
aircraft can be charged with DWI.                                                                                               
SENATOR HALFORD said that is certainly not his intent.                                                                          
SENATOR  ELTON  said  he  didn't  think  so.    He  also  asked  for                                                            
clarification of the definition  of "intoxicating liquor" in section                                                            
4.  He  questioned  whether,  under  Section  5,  a  person  who  is                                                            
convicted is  punishable by a fine  of not more than $500,  which is                                                            
considerably less than the DWI provisions.                                                                                      
SENATOR TAYLOR noted a committee substitute had been prepared.                                                                  
SENATOR  ELTON acknowledged  that those sections  were removed  from                                                            
the committee substitute.                                                                                                       
SENATOR WARD  moved to adopt CSSB  100(TRA) as the working  document                                                            
of the committee (Version  F).  There being no objection, the motion                                                            
SENATOR ELTON  clarified that the provisions he was  speaking to are                                                            
now included  in Sections 6, 7, and  8 of the committee substitute.                                                             
CHAIRMAN COWDERY  said, to his understanding, if certain  conditions                                                            
prevail, a pilot can land anyplace.                                                                                             
SENATOR HALFORD  asked Juli  Lucky to provide  the committee  with a                                                            
sectional analysis of the committee substitute.                                                                                 
MS. JULI LUCKY,  staff to Senator  Rick Halford, said in  Section 1,                                                            
the reference  to the Department  of Commerce  and Regional  Affairs                                                            
(CRA) was  changed to the  Department of  Transportation because  it                                                            
now deals  with DOT.  Sections  3, 4, and  5 are  new sections  that                                                            
specify  when a private  airport  must be  open for  a person  to be                                                            
charged with  obstructing an  airport or runway.   Section 9  adds a                                                            
few survival  rations and specifies  that larger planes are  exempt,                                                            
which is  in statute.   Section 10 contains  references to  statutes                                                            
and penalty sections.   She pointed out Section 10 speaks to Senator                                                            
Elton's question.   Section 11 deals with civil liability.   Section                                                            
12  contains  a  technical  change,  and  Section  13  contains  the                                                            
MS. LUCKY stated that regarding  Sections 6, 7, and 8, which Senator                                                            
Elton  questioned, those  sections  were recommended  by the  Alaska                                                            
State Troopers.   The DWI provision is covered under  AS 28.35.  The                                                            
troopers found  that having DWI laws  in two places was duplicative                                                             
and confusing.  The troopers  requested that the references to AS 28                                                            
regarding  DWI be  removed  and changed  to  controlled substances,                                                             
which is  consistent  with the other  statutes.   She explained  the                                                            
part that was in the aviation  statutes will be taken care of in the                                                            
DWI statutes.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  ELTON said  his concern  is which provisions  are  applied,                                                            
especially  on the penalty  side.   For a violation  of the  chapter                                                            
that is covered under Section  6, he would rather have the penalties                                                            
in AS 28.35 applied than the $500 cap.                                                                                          
MS. LUCKY said,  to her understanding, one reason  the troopers want                                                            
the DWI  removed from this  section of the  aviation statutes  is to                                                            
avoid confusion.   Therefore, DWI  will not covered in Title  2; the                                                            
reference will be moved to AS 28.                                                                                               
SENATOR ELTON  offered to follow up with Ms. Lucky  and the troopers                                                            
on that question before the next meeting.                                                                                       
Number 1038                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  HALFORD  said,  regarding  the  questions  that  relate  to                                                            
closing  a  public versus  a  non-public  runway,  at the  time  the                                                            
original  acts were  passed,  there was  a real  effort to  maintain                                                            
every possible runway.   Since then, liability questions and private                                                            
property  questions have  arisen.   Sections  3, 4,  and 5 apply  to                                                            
those questions.   He felt those sections  are the most substantive                                                             
in   the  bill;   the   rest  of   the   bill  consists   of   DOTPF                                                            
SENATOR TAYLOR  asked Senator Halford  if it would do any  damage to                                                            
insert "or rotor wing" in Section 5.                                                                                            
SENATOR HALFORD said he didn't think so.                                                                                        
SENATOR  TAYLOR pointed  out  that would  cover  helicopter  landing                                                            
opportunities also.  He  said he raised the question because federal                                                            
agencies have  closed off the entire national forest  and wilderness                                                            
in Southeast  to helicopter landings  unless the pilot can  prove he                                                            
or she has landed in that spot in the past.                                                                                     
SENATOR  HALFORD did  not think  SB 100  would preempt  the  federal                                                            
government from doing that.                                                                                                     
SENATOR TAYLOR  agreed but said SB  100 will impact state  lands and                                                            
private lands.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR HALFORD  responded, "Well,  it's navigable water  and public                                                            
lands so it's  not the private property  and it's subject  to public                                                            
safety and a basic notice requirement."                                                                                         
SENATOR TAYLOR  asked Senator Halford  to consider the inclusion  of                                                            
helicopters  as a proposed  amendment.  He  referred to Section  11,                                                            
regarding  civil liabilities,  and said  his primary  concern  is to                                                            
make sure the  runways that section applies to are  privately owned.                                                            
He does not think the bill  contains a clear definition of a private                                                            
airstrip that welcomes  the public and a private landing strip where                                                            
others are not welcome to land.                                                                                                 
SENATOR  HALFORD said  the two  questions regarding  the ability  to                                                            
close and where liability  accrues are clearly tort questions, which                                                            
is why he asked Senator  Taylor if he wanted the Judiciary Committee                                                            
to hear the bill.                                                                                                               
SENATOR TAYLOR  said he thinks  the bill is  a good draft but  he is                                                            
concerned  that   commercial  activity  is  considered   to  be  the                                                            
triggering device.   One could have a totally private  landing strip                                                            
that the  owner uses for  a guiding business,  which is commercial.                                                             
He pointed out  that one of the triggers in Section  11 is whether a                                                            
fee is charged  for landing but it  does not address a runway  owner                                                            
who leases hangar space.                                                                                                        
SENATOR  HALFORD said  he is counting  on Senator  Taylor to  figure                                                            
those  answers  out.   He  indicated  he  is trying  to  remove  the                                                            
disincentive  for an individual to  maintain or have anything  to do                                                            
with  a runway  because  of  the potential  liability.    The  other                                                            
problem is  that there are airports  all over that aren't  listed in                                                            
the airmen's  guide because  owners don't want  people to know  they                                                            
are  there.   Some  are  on  public  property  adjacent  to  private                                                            
property.  No one wants to maintain those runways.                                                                              
SENATOR  TAYLOR said he  has asked  to have some  research done  and                                                            
hopes to  come up with some  answers but he  does not know  that any                                                            
lawsuits have ever been filed in Alaska involving a runway.                                                                     
SENATOR HALFORD pointed  out that the bill contains a large repealer                                                            
section  to the old  Title 2.   The sections  in  the bill that  are                                                            
significant are the issues they have been discussing.                                                                           
Number 1415                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN COWDERY  asked why weapons were not included  in Section 9.                                                            
He asked if that issue has been addressed in the House bill.                                                                    
SENATOR  HALFORD said  that is  addressed  in the House  bill.   The                                                            
weapon requirement  was taken  out for flights  to Canada only.   He                                                            
pointed out  that this is an area  where the existing state  law has                                                            
not been enforced  for decades.  The bill initially,  at the request                                                            
of DOTPF, repealed  the whole section  but the Department  of Public                                                            
Safety (DPS)  wanted to have something  in the bill.   DPS  wanted a                                                            
general statement  so that there was some requirement  they could go                                                            
after but that  looked like it might  lead to selective enforcement                                                             
and not be  a good way to go.  He  then went back and tried  to come                                                            
up with  the simplest  and shortest  version of a  list that  was an                                                            
update from the original  list.  He didn't include a firearm at that                                                            
point.    He pointed  out  that  pilots  who make  a  living  flying                                                            
generally carry a lot more than what is required by the list.                                                                   
CHAIRMAN COWDERY repeated that SB 100 will be held in committee.                                                                
MR.  KURT  PARKAN,  Deputy  Commissioner   of  DOTPF,  informed  the                                                            
committee  that Carl  Sevey (ph)  is an  engineer  in the  statewide                                                            
aviation section of DOTPF.   Mr. Sevey worked with Senator Halford's                                                            
staff on SB 100; he is available for questions.                                                                                 
There  being  no  further  questions  or  comments   from  committee                                                            
members, CHAIRMAN COWDERY  said he would wait for the House bill and                                                            
work with both  bills.  He then adjourned  the meeting at  3:38 p.m.                                                            

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