Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205
03/31/2005 01:30 PM TRANSPORTATION
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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SB 133-AVIATION ADVISORY BOARD CHAIR HUGGINS announced SB 133 to be up for consideration. KIP KNUDSON, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT/PF) testified in support of the Aviation Advisory Board. He maintained it has been an effective policy tool since inception. Aviation industry and interest groups recommended the formation of the board to Governor Murkowski. Since formation, the board is renewed each year through an administrative order. The commissioner of DOT/PF recommends the board become a permanent group. 1:37:19 PM CHAIR HUGGINS asked Mr. Knudson whether the Aviation Advisory Board was in existence prior to Governor Murkowski's administration. MR. KNUDSON replied no. SENATOR COWDERY asked the purpose of having the commissioner consult with the board regarding hiring. MR. KNUDSON answered the board would like to be involved with the hiring of airport directors. SENATOR COWDERY inquired whether the system worked prior to the board being involved. MR. KNUDSON responded there was a quick turnover of directors in Anchorage for eight or nine years. SENATOR COWDERY indicated that might have been due to a lack of qualifications by persons holding the job. MR. KNUDSON neglected to comment. He reiterated the board would like to be consulted regarding the hiring of airport directors. SENATOR COWDERY asserted the hiring of airport directors should be an independent decision of the commissioner. 1:40:13 PM CHAIR HUGGINS understood any advise from the board was advisory. MR. KNUDSON agreed. The board has no veto ability. SENATOR THERRIAULT suggested the Governor's Administration would welcome the opinion of the board. MR. KNUDSON said it is the opinion of the Governor and the commissioner that there are critical infrastructure elements at stake and the aviation communities need to be involved with the appointments. CHAIR HUGGINS asked whether the Governor was in support. MR. KNUDSON said yes. SENATOR FRENCH stated the purpose of the board is to comment on the selection of the two individuals who will run either the Ted Stevens Airport or the Fairbanks Airport. He inquired as to their other duties. MR. KNUDSON admitted the vetting of the candidates is a small part. The board is used to review and discuss present and future policies. 1:42:43 PM MR. KNUDSON advised the committee the board has met 10 times since creation. CHAIR HUGGINS commented Anchorage and Fairbanks are represented and wanted to know if other communities are seeking representation. MR. KNUDSON replied no. Anchorage and Fairbanks have large facilities in the communities. Board members are from the south central region. 1:44:18 PM CHAIR HUGGINS asked whether board members should have an aviation background. MR. KNUDSON replied both Anchorage and Fairbanks mayors did chose people with significant aviation backgrounds. 1:45:51 PM SENATOR COWDERY asked him how many recommendations the board has made. MR. KNUDSON replied one formal resolution was forwarded to the Governor. 1:47:01 PM SENATOR THERRIAULT commented the Aviation Advisory Board members receive no pay but are allowed travel expenses yet the fiscal note is zero. He asked whether it was previously submitted in the FY 2006 budget. MR. KNUDSON responded yes. The total amount is $20,000 for the activity. SENATOR FRENCH asked where the meetings were held. MR. KNUDSON advised they were rotated throughout the state. CHAIR HUGGINS asked whether the board had any oversight with the Medallion Flyer Program. MR. KNUDSON advised that program is not included in the mission statement. The current role of the advisory board is mainly airport associated. 1:49:34 PM KAREN CASANOVAS, executive director, Alaska Air Carriers Association, testified in support of SB 133 and said it would create a positive impact on air carriers operating in Alaska. The Aviation Advisory Board provides support, which will increase the aviation business, promote aviation safety, and provide for better policy making. 1:51:21 PM MS. CASANOVAS added the board has discussed multiple priorities in their meetings. CHAIR HUGGINS asked whether aviation insurance has been addressed. MS. CASANOVAS surmised the subject has been discussed. MR. KNUDSON advised air carrier insurance has not been a direct topic. 1:54:18 PM CHAIR HUGGINS commented there were different insurance challenges between Part 121 and Part 135 operators. MR. KNUDSON advised the smaller carriers suffer the squeeze. MS. CASANOVAS added insurance costs are a continuing issue for the carriers. Some underwriters give a cost break if the carrier participates in the Medallion Program. 1:56:05 PM TOM GEORGE, representative for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, testified in support of SB 133. Making the Aviation Advisory Board permanent provides a balanced approach for the aviation industry to work with the Department of Transportation. 1:59:03 PM RUSS PAINTER, president, Alaska Airmen's Association, testified in support of SB 133. 2:01:00 PM SENATOR COWDERY moved SB 133 from committee with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal note(s). There being no objection, the motion carried.