Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

02/26/2019 01:30 PM TRANSPORTATION

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Audio Topic
01:30:27 PM Start
01:30:51 PM SB4
01:50:56 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 4 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
           SB 4-NAMING SCOTT JOHNSON MEMORIAL BRIDGE                                                                        
1:30:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES announced the consideration  of SB 4, "An Act naming                                                               
the Scott Johnson Memorial Bridge."                                                                                             
1:31:15 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR JOHN COGHILL, Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor of SB 4,                                                               
explained  that  members  of the  public  safety  community  from                                                               
Fairbanks  have asked  that the  new bridge  in the  Tok area  be                                                               
named in honor  of Sergeant Scott Johnson. He grew  up in the Tok                                                               
area  and   served  the  state  with   distinction  before  being                                                               
tragically  killed in  the line  of  duty. He  shared that  after                                                               
burying his father a few days  ago, he's come to realize how much                                                               
one  individual can  mean to  the people  of Alaska.  Thus it  is                                                               
fitting to honor this man who  left such a huge legacy in Alaska.                                                               
He deferred further introduction to his intern, Radames Mercado.                                                                
1:31:26 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE joined the committee meeting                                                                                   
1:33:57 PM                                                                                                                    
RADAMES  MERCADO,  Intern,  Senator John  Coghill,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  shared   that  he  was  surprised   to  learn  that                                                               
legislation  is  required  to  rename   a  bridge.  "It  is  very                                                               
interesting to see how this is all working out," he said.                                                                       
He  explained that  the  Tok  River Bridge  will  be renamed  the                                                               
"Scott Johnson  Memorial Bridge" to  honor his name,  legacy, and                                                               
ultimate sacrifice as an Alaska  State Trooper. Mr. Mercado noted                                                               
that  Sergeant  Johnson  is  survived   by  his  wife  and  three                                                               
daughters.  He was  actively interested  in  wrestling and  spent                                                               
many years encouraging youth to  embrace wrestling and counseling                                                               
them to  become better leaders. Renaming  the bridge acknowledges                                                               
Sergeant Johnson's  contributions to his community  and state and                                                               
honors his sacrifice.                                                                                                           
1:35:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  noted that becoming  an Alaska State Trooper  was a                                                               
goal Sergeant  Johnson had  since he  was a  young boy  living in                                                               
SENATOR COGHILL  related that honoring  Sergeant Johnson  in this                                                               
way is in keeping with past  practice in the Fairbanks North Pole                                                               
area. It is a  small reminder of the men and  women who have made                                                               
this country what it is, he said.                                                                                               
CHAIR HUGHES asked why the fiscal  note was zero when new signage                                                               
would be required.                                                                                                              
MR.  MERCADO explained  the cost  of signage  was built  into the                                                               
project, thus the zero fiscal note.                                                                                             
SENATOR  COGHILL  added clarification  that  the  old bridge  was                                                               
being  dismantled  and  replaced  with this  new  bridge  "as  we                                                               
CHAIR HUGHES asked when she could expect to see the new sign.                                                                   
MR.  MERCADO answered  that  the project  should  be finished  in                                                               
October 2019.                                                                                                                   
1:38:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES opened public testimony on SB 4.                                                                                   
1:39:09 PM                                                                                                                    
JESS  CARSON, Lieutenant,  Alaska State  Troopers, Department  of                                                               
Public Safety, Fairbanks,  said he grew up  with Sergeant Johnson                                                               
in Tok.  He said Scott  was one of the  few athletes from  Tok to                                                               
compete collegially.  This made him  a local hero and  the person                                                               
all young  athletes wanted to  be like, regardless of  the sport.                                                               
It was  his dedication and hard  work that made him  the best and                                                               
inspired the town.  He was very successful in  college, and while                                                               
he was ranked number 1 in  the nation going into his senior year,                                                               
he chose to  skip that year to  pursue his dream by  taking a job                                                               
with the North Pole Police  Department. When he joined the Alaska                                                               
State Troopers, he was a mentor to many.                                                                                        
LIEUTENANT  CARSON  said he  and  Sergeant  Johnson were  workout                                                               
partners  and the  sergeant  would never  leave  the gym  without                                                               
doing  a pullup  for every  fallen officer.  "That's just  how he                                                               
lived his life."  Nothing will bring Scott back, he  said, but it                                                               
will mean a lot to preserve his memory in this way.                                                                             
CHAIR  HUGHES  commented  that  his  testimony  was  particularly                                                               
powerful because he understands what troopers face every day.                                                                   
1:41:22 PM                                                                                                                    
BRANDY  JOHNSON, surviving  spouse, thanked  Senator Coghill  for                                                               
inviting her  input in drafting  SB 4.  She related that  she was                                                               
advised of  the renaming after the  fact. She shared that  she is                                                               
thinking about this policy change  beyond herself and what change                                                               
it may  bring to others. She  likes that the Tok  River Bridge is                                                               
named as it  is. It's held that  name for many years  and she and                                                               
Scott "have floated  that river from dawn to  dusk, hunting moose                                                               
from the  Glenn Highway to  the Alcan  Highway ending at  the Tok                                                               
River Bridge." She said while  floating that section, he told her                                                               
stories of  camping with his family  as a boy. She  said that for                                                               
18 years  she and  Scott crossed  that bridge  going to  and from                                                               
Eagle on moose hunting trips.                                                                                                   
MS  JOHNSON said  she'd appreciate  hearing supportive  testimony                                                               
from community  residents in  the area of  the Tok  River Bridge.                                                               
She continued:                                                                                                                  
     Testimony  from  just  family, friends,  and  coworkers                                                                    
     limits  the  space   for  community  participation  and                                                                    
     tailors  the  policy  to  a  few  individuals.  Through                                                                    
     public  deliberation  across  all  factions,  community                                                                    
     members  will  voice their  respect  for  change or  no                                                                    
     change.  Not everybody  likes change.  Change shouldn't                                                                    
     be based  on tradition,  personal or political  gain of                                                                    
     groups  or individuals.  Allowing and  encouraging such                                                                    
     involvement can  be realized in  a way that  allows ...                                                                    
     community   representatives  to   become  more   active                                                                    
     members in the policy making process.                                                                                      
     After  Scott  was  murdered,  I  was  asked  if  I  was                                                                    
     interested  in  naming  the   bridge  after  Scott  and                                                                    
     [indisc.]  I was  not,  based on  the  location of  the                                                                    
     bridge. I don't want to  drive past the sign of Scott's                                                                    
     name and see it's been  shot up with bullets and spray-                                                                    
     painted. The  disrespect and hurt is  terrible. What is                                                                    
     going  through  my  child's mind  when  they  see  this                                                                    
     vandalism. As  much as I appreciate  the thoughtfulness                                                                    
     of the honor,  none of these honors take  away the pain                                                                    
     and loss. If anything, they  make it worse for me. This                                                                    
     is where I must look  beyond myself for others. Scott's                                                                    
     job was that  of a public servant and now  I have found                                                                    
     that his death, for many,  will always be remembered by                                                                    
     his job and not the person he was.                                                                                         
     In conclusion, I support the  renaming of the Tok River                                                                    
     Bridge to  the Scott  Johnson Memorial Bridge  if there                                                                    
     is  broad-spread community  support of  the centralized                                                                    
     area  of the  bridge.  How our  lawmakers measure  that                                                                    
     support, I will leave to them.                                                                                             
CHAIR  HUGHES thanked  Ms. Johnson  and assured  her that  as the                                                               
bill  goes  through  the  process,  the  hope  is  to  hear  from                                                               
community members.                                                                                                              
1:45:06 PM                                                                                                                    
SERGEANT  JOSHUA  MOORE,  Alaska State  Troopers,  Department  of                                                               
Public  Safety, Fairbanks,  said he  knew Scott  as both  a state                                                               
trooper and as  a family member when the  Johnson family accepted                                                               
him  in that  capacity. He  shared  that Sergeant  Johnson was  a                                                               
legend both inside  and outside of work. He was  playful and lots                                                               
of fun outside  work, whereas on the  job he was the  "go to" who                                                               
solved problems and made things right.                                                                                          
SERGEANT MOORE shared  that when he's traveled  around the nation                                                               
and seen  bridges named after  officers, he researches  the names                                                               
and stories, and  appreciates the sacrifices the  people made. He                                                               
said he appreciates that this  will be the Scott Johnson Memorial                                                               
Bridge rather  than defining him through  the job he did  for the                                                               
state.  "The  appreciation  is  there from  the  public  and  the                                                               
legislative branch in  regard to what we do, but  it's not who we                                                               
are and  what we  leave behind.  He left  a family  and a  lot of                                                               
friends behind," he said.                                                                                                       
1:47:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES found  no one else who wished to  comment and closed                                                               
public testimony on SB 4. She asked the will of the committee.                                                                  
1:47:45 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SHOWER moved  to report  SB 4,  work order  31-LS0098\M,                                                               
from committee with individual  recommendations and attached zero                                                               
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
1:48:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE objected  to  explain that  he  was signing  no                                                               
recommendation on the bill based  on Ms. Johnson's desire to gage                                                               
public support for  this name change. Her  comments about wanting                                                               
the policy  to be  one Alaskans support,  not just  recognize her                                                               
husband, demonstrates  a level  of integrity  that is  rare these                                                               
days, he said. "I think that is pretty amazing."                                                                                
CHAIR HUGHES  said she understands  that, and for herself  it was                                                               
good to hear Sergeant Moore's  testimony about Scott being a fun-                                                               
loving person.                                                                                                                  
1:49:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE removed his objection.                                                                                         
1:49:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES found  no further objection and SB 4  moved from the                                                               
Senate Transportation Standing Committee.                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
STRA Agenda 2.26.19.pdf STRA 2/26/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 04 Sponsor Statement.pdf STRA 2/26/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 04 Bill Text.pdf STRA 2/26/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 04 Fiscal Note - DOT&PF.pdf STRA 2/26/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 04 Images of Bridge.pdf STRA 2/26/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 4 Bridge Blueprint.pdf STRA 2/26/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 04 Bridge Location.pdf STRA 2/26/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 4 Memorium.pdf STRA 2/26/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 4 Scott Johnson Obituary.pdf STRA 2/26/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 4