Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205
03/03/2009 01:00 PM TRANSPORTATION
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 59 - LOW-SPEED MOTOR VEHICLES 1:16:17 PM CHAIR KOOKESH announced the consideration of SB 59 and asked for motion to adopt the committee substitute (CS). SENATOR PASKVAN moved to adopt CS for SB 59, labeled 26- LS0280\T, as the working document before the committee. 1:16:57 PM WESTON EILER, Staff to Senator Stedman, explained the CS incorporates the comments and concerns raised by the committee and the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Specifically, the bill now limits the expansion of low-speed vehicles to municipalities with populations of less than 25,000 people and they may not be connected by major arteries and highways to Anchorage or Fairbanks. Safety concerns that were raised have been addressed as well as concerns about traffic density. The bill will still allow small communities to expand and have sustainable transportation with low-speed vehicles including areas of the unorganized borough that are off the road system. CHAIR KOOKESH asked if the administration has further problems with the bill. MR. EILER replied they worked with DOTPF and incorporated their concerns so there is agreement. 1:18:50 PM ROGER HEALY, Chief Engineer, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said, "The department is in support of the scope and intent of this bill." They are always concerned with vehicles that travel at different speeds but recognize that rights of way have to accommodate a number of uses. "This is one we're willing to support," he said. 1:19:39 PM GERALD HERBRANDSON, representing himself, Petersburg, said he has an alternative energy company and he has sold 9 low-speed vehicles in the community. He supports the draft CS but would recommend that the state make a positive statement about low- speed vehicles and energy conservation and allow the use in all communities of 25,000 population or less, unless the community chooses to exempt itself. CHAIR KOOKESH noted that a representative from the Division of Motor Vehicles is online to answer questions. 1:21:20 PM MEGAN PASTERNAK, representing herself, Sitka, thanked the sponsor and his staff for their work on the bill and the committee for holding a hearing. She has been a low-speed electric vehicle owner and driver for more than a year. Besides the 12 known low-speed vehicles in Southeast Alaska, there are also 2 in Kodiak and possibly more throughout the state. SB 59 is about more than just cheap transportation; it is a much needed step to help eliminate pollution and protect the environment. This will encourage others to buy and use low-speed vehicles. She is a very conscientious driver and is sure other low-speed vehicle drivers are similarly conscientious. Her understanding of why they are safe is that they are lightweight and "when involved in a crash they tend to bounce away rather than take the full impact force." 1:23:41 PM ANDREW TONES, Executive Director, Sitka Conservation Society, said the 700 conservation members in Sitka have expressed considerable interest in being able to use electric vehicles in town. A number of Sitkans have either bought electric vehicles or converted their cars from gas-powered to electric. The National Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard also have electric vehicles in Sitka. Making it possible to use these vehicles and sending a message to auto manufacturers and the federal government that laws are needed to allow these vehicles is a tremendous step forward, he said. CHAIR KOOKESH closed public testimony and opened committee discussion. 1:25:31 PM SENATOR PASKVAN commented that it's becoming an issue that more vehicles aren't paying their fair share for highway maintenance. Historically highway maintenance has been paid for through federal and state motor vehicle tax. He questioned how roadways will be maintained if vehicles aren't paying motor vehicle taxes. CHAIR KOOKESH asked the will of the committee. SENATOR MEYER moved to report SB 59, \T version, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). There being no objection, CSSB 59(TRA) moved from the Senate Transportation Standing Committee.