Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

03/07/2017 08:00 AM House COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

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08:01:01 AM Start
08:02:21 AM HB148
09:09:37 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
    HOUSE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                   
                         March 7, 2017                                                                                          
                           8:01 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Zach Fansler, Co-Chair                                                                                           
Representative Justin Parish, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Dean Westlake                                                                                                    
Representative George Rauscher                                                                                                  
Representative Dan Saddler                                                                                                      
Representative David Talerico                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Harriet Drummond                                                                                                 
Representative DeLena Johnson (alternate)                                                                                       
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (alternate)                                                                              
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 148                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to service areas in second class boroughs; and                                                                 
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 148                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SECOND CLASS BOROUGH SERVICE AREAS                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) CHENAULT                                                                                          
03/01/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/01/17       (H)       CRA                                                                                                    
03/07/17       (H)       CRA AT 8:00 AM BARNES 124                                                                              
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE CHENAULT                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 148, as prime sponsor.                                                                      
TOM WRIGHT, Staff                                                                                                               
Representative Mike Chenault                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions  during the hearing on HB
148, on behalf of Representative Chenault, prime sponsor.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE GARY KNOPP                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions  during the hearing on HB
MIKE NAVARRE, Mayor                                                                                                             
Kenai Peninsula Borough                                                                                                         
Kenai, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified and  answered questions during the                                                             
hearing on HB 148.                                                                                                              
GEORGE PIERCE                                                                                                                   
Kasilof, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 148.                                                                       
LARRY PERSILY, Chief of Staff                                                                                                   
Kenai Peninsula Borough                                                                                                         
Kenai, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information  during the  hearing on                                                             
HB 148.                                                                                                                         
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:01:01 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  ZACH FANSLER  called the  House Community  and Regional                                                             
Affairs  Standing  Committee  meeting   to  order  at  8:01  a.m.                                                               
Representatives  Talerico, Rauscher,  Westlake, and  Fansler were                                                               
present  at  the call  to  order.   Representatives  Saddler  and                                                               
Parish arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                  
           HB 148-SECOND CLASS BOROUGH SERVICE AREAS                                                                        
8:02:21 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR FANSLER announced that the  only order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 148,  "An Act  relating to  service areas  in                                                               
second class boroughs; and providing for an effective date."                                                                    
8:02:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   MIKE   CHENAULT,   Alaska   State   Legislature,                                                               
presented HB 148,  as prime sponsor.  He  paraphrased the sponsor                                                               
statement,   which   read   as  follows   [original   punctuation                                                               
     House Bill  148 expands the authority  for second-class                                                                    
     boroughs  to exercise  the local  option of  creating a                                                                    
     non-taxable service area  to provide emergency response                                                                    
     along state  highway corridors not covered  by existing                                                                    
     emergency   services  areas.     In   particular,  this                                                                    
     legislation  would enable  the Kenai  Peninsula Borough                                                                    
     to establish  a service  area for  coordinated coverage                                                                    
     for the almost 90 miles  of the heavily traveled Seward                                                                    
     and  Sterling   highways  that   are  not   within  the                                                                    
     boundaries of any established emergency services area.                                                                     
     The   bill   proposes   additional   language   in   AS                                                                    
     29.35.490(a) Establishment of  a Service Area, allowing                                                                    
     second-class  boroughs to  create  service areas  along                                                                    
     state highway corridors by  ordinance, provided that no                                                                    
     voters reside  within the  service area  boundaries and                                                                    
     no new  taxes are levied  for the service area.   Under                                                                    
     the current  statute, approval by a  majority of voters                                                                    
     is  required   to  create  a  new   service  area  with                                                                    
     residents    this  legislation  would  not change  that                                                                    
     provision.     The   intent  is   to  deal   only  with                                                                    
     unpopulated  highway  right-of-way corridors.    Second                                                                    
     class  boroughs within  the  state,  besides the  Kenai                                                                    
     Peninsula Borough, are the  Aleutians East Borough, the                                                                    
     Fairbanks  North Star  Borough,  the Ketchikan  Gateway                                                                    
     Borough, the Kodiak Island Borough and the Matanuska-                                                                      
     Susitna Borough.                                                                                                           
     In the case of the  Kenai Peninsula, subject to borough                                                                    
     assembly approval,  the municipal government  could use                                                                    
     a  portion  of   its  federal  payment-in-lieu-of-taxes                                                                    
     (PILT)  allocation  to  cover the  costs  of  providing                                                                    
     highway   corridor   travelers   with   life-and-safety                                                                    
     response services.                                                                                                         
     The Overview,  Background and Conclusion brief  that is                                                                    
     included in your back up  materials provides a more in-                                                                    
     depth analysis as to why  this legislation is necessary                                                                    
     and needed.                                                                                                                
8:04:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT  noted  that  there  is  a  map  in  the                                                               
committee  packet showing  the area  the bill  addresses, and  it                                                               
shows the accidents  that have occurred in the  area from January                                                               
[2015] to December 2016.                                                                                                        
8:05:22 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  asked if  those  in  the service  areas                                                               
being discussed currently pay taxes.                                                                                            
8:06:06 AM                                                                                                                    
TOM  WRIGHT, Staff,  Representative Mike  Chenault, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, on behalf of  Representative Chenault, prime sponsor                                                               
of HB  148, stated that  someone living  in a service  area would                                                               
pay taxes.  He added, "For the most part."                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT, in  response to Representative Rauscher,                                                               
clarified that the  section of road being addressed  under HB 148                                                               
currently  has no  service provided;  therefore,  he offered  his                                                               
understanding  that no  one  is  paying taxes  on  it.   He  said                                                               
currently areas  like Cooper  Landing and  Moose Pass  send their                                                               
volunteer fire  departments to service the  areas discussed under                                                               
HB 148 when people are available.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  asked  if  the borough  area  would  be                                                               
expanded under HB 148.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT  answered  no:   the  borough  currently                                                               
encompasses the area  being discussed in relation to HB  148.  In                                                               
response to  a follow-up question,  he offered  his understanding                                                               
that currently the land being  discussed is federal and there are                                                               
no residents living in the area that pay a current tax.                                                                         
8:08:50 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. WRIGHT said  most of the service areas being  proposed by the                                                               
Kenai  Peninsula  Borough  are  "along federal  land,"  and  [the                                                               
borough] receives  PILT to  cover costs  - "whatever  the borough                                                               
may ... incur."  He said  HB 148 would create service areas along                                                               
state highway  corridors by ordinance, provided  no voters reside                                                               
within the  service area boundaries  and no taxes are  levied for                                                               
the service area.   In response to a follow-up  question, he said                                                               
it is  the borough that  would be  involved in deciding  upon the                                                               
8:10:21 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  under which  specific program  the                                                               
federal PILT is available and how much money it would generate.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT explained that  under HB 148, the borough                                                               
would be allowed  to use the money currently  generated under the                                                               
federal  PILT  to  fund  emergency  services  along  the  highway                                                               
corridor.  In  response to a follow-up question, he  said he does                                                               
not know how  much money is currently made available  by means of                                                               
the  federal  PILT,  but  he  suggested  that  Mr.  Persily,  Mr.                                                               
Navarre, or Representative  Knopp, who sits on  the assembly, may                                                               
be  able to  offer  more  details regarding  where  the money  is                                                               
currently being spent.                                                                                                          
8:11:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARY KNOPP,  Alaska State  Legislature, indicated                                                               
that the Kenai  Peninsula Borough receives a  few million dollars                                                               
of federal PILT in timber receipts.   In response to the previous                                                               
queries  from  Representative  Rauscher, he  said  service  areas                                                               
typically are created by a vote  of the people and the boundaries                                                               
are defined;  the purposes of  those areas include  fire service,                                                               
road service,  and recreation, and  there is a proposed  mil rate                                                               
to fund  what the voters  deem is  necessary.  He  indicated that                                                               
the borough is  asking that its powers be  expanded under statute                                                               
to be  allowed the option of  using federal PILT to  create a new                                                               
service  area along  the highway  corridor where  currently there                                                               
are no emergency services and no residents to tax.                                                                              
8:14:42 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER said  the idea sounds like a  good one and                                                               
is a novel approach.  He asked if  the presence of a voter in the                                                               
area  -  someone who,  perhaps,  purchases  private land  in  the                                                               
corridor - would change the situation.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP answered  that  in order  for  a person  to                                                               
purchase land in  this area, the state would have  to give up its                                                               
right-of-way, which he  said "won't happen."  He  said the amount                                                               
that would be spent for  ambulance services and training would be                                                               
minimal; he deferred to Mayor Navarre for further details.                                                                      
8:15:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO  offered his understanding that  the area                                                               
in  question  already  has  [emergency  response]  services;  the                                                               
proposed  legislation  would  "clearly define  for  these  people                                                               
where   their  service   areas  goes"   and  make   certain  that                                                               
"everyone's aware that  everything that they have  in place would                                                               
be covered."  He indicated that  is how things worked in his home                                                               
rule  borough and  "this just  really kind  of cleans  it up  and                                                               
gives it a good definition."                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT  responded, "It's  true:    most of  our                                                               
departments have  mutual aid agreements."   He deferred  to Mayor                                                               
Navarre, but  stated, "I  think that  they're really  pushing the                                                               
envelope  calling  some of  this  mutual  aid, because  ...  they                                                               
really weren't doing it -  they were responding because they were                                                               
the only ones that could respond."                                                                                              
8:17:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   PARISH   asked   for   confirmation   that   his                                                               
understanding was correct that HB  148 would allow a second-class                                                               
borough to extend a service area,  provided there is no tax payer                                                               
living  in  that area,  but  it  would  not  allow a  borough  to                                                               
"increase the property tax with that expanded service area."                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT responded, "That's  correct as far as our                                                               
interpretation.   There are no  tax payers  ... in the  area that                                                               
we're  talking  about,  and  ... it  wouldn't  expand  any  other                                                               
borough  power."    In  response  to  Representative  Parish,  he                                                               
offered  his understanding  that  in recent  years the  following                                                               
volunteer  emergency responder  services have  been covering  the                                                               
area  being discussed:   Cooper  Landing, Moose  Pass, Hope,  and                                                               
Central Emergency  Services (CES)  out of  Sterling -  all within                                                               
the Kenai Peninsula Borough.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH commended the sponsor  for a bill that aims                                                               
to "do right by the borough."                                                                                                   
8:19:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WESTLAKE  said he  thinks HB 148  is a  great bill                                                               
and a  great idea.  He  asked what would happen  with the current                                                               
8:20:21 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  explained that  the volunteers  would still                                                               
remain,  but  HB  148  would  allow the  borough  to  assist  the                                                               
community in  which those volunteers  operate.  He  mentioned CES                                                               
and  said  that   the  borough  has  been   pushing  outside  the                                                               
boundaries.   He said there  are stringent rules  around services                                                               
areas.   Regarding  CES, he  said the  borough has  been "pushing                                                               
completely  outside  the  boundaries  that was  approved  by  the                                                               
voters."  The proposed legislation  would provide the opportunity                                                               
for  the  borough  to  provide   the  financial  support  to  the                                                               
communities to keep these services in place.                                                                                    
8:21:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  how reliable  the timber  receipts                                                               
are in regard to the federal PILT.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT deferred to Mayor Navarre.                                                                              
8:22:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  expressed uncertainty as to  whether "if                                                               
no voters reside in the service  area" means no one owns property                                                               
in the area.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT  said he  thinks there  are a  few cabins                                                               
along the road, but he does  not know whether they are on federal                                                               
land via  permit or private land.   He deferred to  Mayor Navarre                                                               
for further information.                                                                                                        
8:23:02 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  FANSLER  expressed  appreciation for  the  colored  map                                                               
included in  the committee  packet as a  means to  understand the                                                               
number  of responses  that have  occurred  in the  corridor.   He                                                               
offered his understanding  of the map was  that everything except                                                               
the top-right  Girdwood Portage  is part  of the  Kenai Peninsula                                                               
Borough, which sets up the  service areas, including the CES near                                                               
Kenai and  Bear Creek near  Seward, and everything else  makes up                                                               
the area that is being  discussed, including Hope and Moose Pass.                                                               
He  concluded,  "So, what  we're  talking  about is  perhaps  the                                                               
central emergency  following the  corridor out, perhaps,  if they                                                               
wished, is what this bill would allow."                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT  answered that is  correct.  He  said the                                                               
line on the left  of the map is where the  services of CES stops.                                                               
Coming out of  Seward, at the bottom  of the map, and  up to Bear                                                               
Creek  is another  service  area.   All the  rest  is covered  by                                                               
volunteer  fire  and  emergency  service  departments  in  Cooper                                                               
Landing, Moose Pass,  and up toward Hope.  He  said, "The rest of                                                               
that area is in non-service areas."                                                                                             
CO-CHAIR  FANSLER  asked  if  only  those  second-class  boroughs                                                               
listed in the sponsor statement would be affected under HB 148.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT   offered  his  understanding   that  is                                                               
correct.   In  response  to  a follow-up  question,  he said  his                                                               
office has asked  the Kenai Peninsula Borough to  contact all the                                                               
other second-class  boroughs to elicit  comments, but he  has not                                                               
heard back from those boroughs.                                                                                                 
8:25:53 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP related  that the  Kenai Peninsula  Borough                                                               
owns "the  two hospitals" and has  created a task force  to study                                                               
how to provide  better services.  He said the  mayor has proposed                                                               
expansion.  He clarified that  [the proposed legislation] focuses                                                               
solely  on providing  emergency medical  services in  the highway                                                               
corridor area  highlighted on the  aforementioned map -  not road                                                               
8:26:53 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  expressed concern about  other boroughs.                                                               
He asked if a specification  that "no private properties exist in                                                               
the service area" would "interrupt what you're trying to do."                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  responded that  he  cannot  speak for  the                                                               
other boroughs, but  if the request being made through  HB 148 is                                                               
successful,  the issue  would still  have to  be vetted  by local                                                               
governing bodies and  assemblies would still have  the final say;                                                               
therefore,  every  second-class  borough's governing  body  would                                                               
have the authority to make the decisions.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  said he will  support HB 148,  but wants                                                               
to  ensure that  under HB  148  private properties  would not  be                                                               
taxed if caught in the service area.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP said  current statute requires a  vote for a                                                               
borough  to be  included in  a service  area; therefore,  private                                                               
property could not be included without a vote of the people.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER offered his  understanding that a borough                                                               
can  have  six  different  reasons for  having  a  service  area,                                                               
including  for gas,  river erosion  management, or  road service.                                                               
He  said Representative  Knopp is  correct that  private property                                                               
owners do  have to vote  to be included  in one of  those service                                                               
areas,  but he  was "just  making sure  that that  language would                                                               
8:29:06 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  questioned why no definition  of "highway                                                               
corridor" was included in the bill.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT  pointed  to  a  legal  opinion  in  the                                                               
committee  packet  [a  memorandum   from  Legislative  Legal  and                                                               
Research Services  dated 2/5/17] regarding highway  corridor, and                                                               
he said  it would be  the purview of  the committee to  include a                                                               
definition in the proposed legislation.                                                                                         
8:29:54 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. WRIGHT  related that  he had forwarded  the legal  opinion to                                                               
the Kenai Peninsula Borough, which  did not think a definition in                                                               
HB  148 was  necessary.   Nevertheless, he  echoed Representative                                                               
Chenault's remark that it would be the purview of committee.                                                                    
8:30:29 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  FANSLER asked  what, under  HB 148,  would happen  if a                                                               
private land owner  is involved in an accident  while pulling out                                                               
of  his/her  driveway onto  a  highway  in the  highway  corridor                                                               
service area in question.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT  answered,  "I would  assume  that  they                                                               
would respond  to any  accident within  the corridor  and provide                                                               
life/health assistance  to any accident  there."  He  offered his                                                               
understanding that  "what it would  do is it would  have somebody                                                               
that  would respond  versus wondering  if  somebody will  respond                                                               
CO-CHAIR FANSLER  offered a [reverse]  scenario in  which someone                                                               
driving in the highway corridor  loses control of the vehicle and                                                               
hits a  tree on  someone else's  private property.   He  asked if                                                               
that  scenario would  also  be a  situation  in which  [emergency                                                               
medical services] would respond.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT  said  that  would  be  his  assumption,                                                               
because the intent  of HB 148 is to create  an emergency response                                                               
group that  can assist  people involved  in accidents  along that                                                               
highway corridor.                                                                                                               
8:32:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP offered that  most highway corridors vary in                                                               
width  but are  typically about  "100 foot  each side  the center                                                               
line"; therefore,  "a lot  of your  driveway approaches  are into                                                               
right-of-way highway corridors  way before you get  to the actual                                                               
driving portion of the road ...."                                                                                               
8:32:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR PARISH  offered his understanding  of only  one instance                                                               
in statute  where "highway corridor"  is defined, and that  is as                                                               
"land within  five miles of the  right-of-way of a highway".   He                                                               
said, "It does  just make me leery to have  that as the statutory                                                               
precedent for  this within ... the  State of Alaska."   He added,                                                               
"It would  ... set my  mind at ease if,  for the purpose  of this                                                               
bill,  it  were redefined  along  the  lines that  Representative                                                               
Knopp outlined just few moments ago."                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  responded,  "I'm not  familiar  with  that                                                               
language, ... so I can't respond to  that.  The mayor may be able                                                               
to do that, though."                                                                                                            
8:34:11 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE   NAVARRE,  Mayor,   Kenai   Peninsula  Borough,   expressed                                                               
appreciation for those  who had worked on HB 148.   He said there                                                               
is little  tax base in Cooper  Landing, Moose Pass, and  Hope, in                                                               
part because  a great deal of  the property is federal  forest or                                                               
refuge  land.   As a  result, there  is a  huge gap  in emergency                                                               
services  in the  area between  where CES  ends and  Bear Creek's                                                               
fire  and emergency  services begins,  and that  gap in  coverage                                                               
currently is  being filled  by volunteers.   He said  the borough                                                               
has spoken  to community members  in that  area who want  to help                                                               
their community,  but that  portion of  the highway  is populated                                                               
with  people  commuting from  other  areas  and visitors  to  the                                                               
state, and accidents that require  emergency service response are                                                               
stretching thin the resources of  those sparsely populated areas.                                                               
He  said Cooper  Landing,  in particular,  is  populated by  many                                                               
seniors, which  is significant  because their  tax base  is lower                                                               
and many  of the volunteers  have lost  their stamina and  are no                                                               
longer allowed to  drive at night because their  night vision has                                                               
declined.   He said because the  area in question is  so large, a                                                               
transport from  an accident,  often in the  middle of  the night,                                                               
ends up taking four hours.                                                                                                      
MR.  NAVARRE said  while  the area  may  receive more  volunteers                                                               
during  increased  summer population,  in  the  winter they  will                                                               
often call CES  or a dispatch service to state  that they have no                                                               
one who can respond to an  emergency.  He said the permission for                                                               
one service  area to  respond in another  service area  must come                                                               
from a  government authority, such  as by mayoral approval  or at                                                               
the direction  of the Alaska  State Troopers; however,  even with                                                               
that permission,  the tax payers  in the responding  service area                                                               
are  paying for  the emergency  services of  the outside  service                                                               
area.  He said, "We can do it  in the case of mutual aid and auto                                                               
aid, but those  are prescribed, and the reality is  that there is                                                               
no  mutual  aid  that  comes   from  Cooper  Landing  to  Central                                                               
Emergency Services  - it's  all ... one-way."   Mr.  Navarre said                                                               
the  folks from  Cooper  Landing approached  the Kenai  Peninsula                                                               
Borough a couple years ago and  said they did not want to respond                                                               
all along the  highway - they wanted to reduce  the area in which                                                               
they served -  and the borough could see that  that was a problem                                                               
for  visitors and  residents of  the Kenai  Peninsula who  travel                                                               
through Cooper  Landing.   He said the  federal PILT  received by                                                               
the borough fluctuates between 2.1  to 3.1 million dollars a year                                                               
for all  the federal lands  on the Kenai  Peninsula - some  of it                                                               
from forest  receipts.  He  said the  amount is not  a guarantee,                                                               
but it has been fairly stable for the last 20 years or so.                                                                      
8:39:21 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. NAVARRE  said the borough  is proposing to its  assembly that                                                               
the borough  would use up  to 20 percent  of the federal  PILT to                                                               
provide resources and coverage to the  area in question.  He said                                                               
because  PILT monies  are  already utilized  in  the budget,  the                                                               
borough recognizes that if it  diverts the funds for this purpose                                                               
without any other  changes in its budget, it would  have to raise                                                               
taxes on  a borough-wide basis in  order to cover the  funds that                                                               
would be used for the emergency  service.  He said the borough is                                                               
being upfront with  the assembly.  He called  the proposed method                                                               
a creative  way to get coverage  in an area for  which nobody has                                                               
taken responsibility,  with the  exception of the  Cooper Landing                                                               
emergency services  volunteers, who  end up getting  "burnt out."                                                               
He said  currently the  borough has been  offering housing  and a                                                               
small  stipend  to  a  volunteer  from  the  paramedics  training                                                               
program at  Kenai Peninsula  College to  stay in  Cooper Landing.                                                               
He  said  the proposed  legislation  would,  if the  assembly  is                                                               
agreeable, allow coverage  of emergency services in  an area that                                                               
is otherwise not adequately covered.                                                                                            
MR.  NAVARRE said  the borough  has  checked with  all the  other                                                               
second-class  boroughs,   none  of   which  have   expressed  any                                                               
opposition  to the  proposed  legislation, and  it  would be  the                                                               
option of the  second-class borough whether or not  "to do this."                                                               
He  said this  road corridor  in question  is already  authorized                                                               
under AS 29.35.490(a)(2), which read as follows:                                                                                
          (2)  all owners  of real  property in  the service                                                                    
     area consent  in writing to  the exercise of  the power                                                                    
     if no voters reside in the service area.                                                                                   
MR. NAVARRE stated:                                                                                                             
     The  problem that  we have  and the  reason that  we're                                                                    
     asking for this  change is you can imagine  that we get                                                                    
     into   discussions  with   the   state  Department   of                                                                    
     Transportation  [&  Public   Facilities],  the  Federal                                                                    
     [Highway Administration],  landowners from  the refuge,                                                                    
     and  the  [U.S.] Forest  Service  -  all the  different                                                                    
     agencies having  to give permission  - and at  the same                                                                    
     time, we're  in it  getting all the  attorney's wrapped                                                                    
     up and  twisted around the  axel over who ends  up what                                                                    
     type of  liability in  this corridor.   So,  what we're                                                                    
     asking  for is  a ...  clarification of  what's already                                                                    
     authorized  in state  statute, so  that  we can,  using                                                                    
     borough  resources, step  up  and  provide coverage  to                                                                    
     visitors to resident alike.                                                                                                
8:42:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  referred to AS 29.35.490(a)  and (c) and                                                               
expressed a  desire to learn  more about the  distinction between                                                               
various classes of cities and boroughs.                                                                                         
MAYOR NAVARRE  suggested one  difference is  the amount  of power                                                               
CO-CHAIR  FANSLER suggested  Representative  Rauscher might  find                                                               
some answers on that issue from his staff.                                                                                      
8:44:45 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  for  more details  related to  the                                                               
anticipated use  of 20 percent of  the federal PILT by  the Kenai                                                               
Peninsula Borough.                                                                                                              
MAYOR NAVARRE  said 20  percent of  the current  approximately $3                                                               
million  in federal  PILT monies  would amount  to a  little over                                                               
$500,000.   He  said, "The  reason that  we're going  to ask  the                                                               
assembly ...  to utilize  those funds is  it represents  about 20                                                               
percent of the federal land  areas ... within the Kenai Peninsula                                                               
Borough, so we ... think that using  up to 20 percent in order to                                                               
provide this service  makes some sense."  He said  he is not sure                                                               
what  the assembly  will  say, but  he opined  that  this is  the                                                               
sensible and best  way to provide the coverage needed  at no cost                                                               
to the state.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  asked if  there  would  be any  negative                                                               
affect resulting  from a lack of  votes to support the  intent of                                                               
HB 148.                                                                                                                         
MAYOR NAVARRE  answered no,  the authority  would exist  in state                                                               
statute, so that at  some point, "if we chose to  go at it again,                                                               
we'd  be able  to provide  coverage."   The  biggest concern,  he                                                               
emphasized,  is that  currently  there is  no  coverage in  these                                                               
areas.  A  further problem is that in  the aforementioned highway                                                               
corridor area,  there is often insufficient  cell phone coverage.                                                               
Without  residents in  the area,  this issue  will be  up to  the                                                               
assembly, he advised.   He reemphasized the need to  take care of                                                               
visitors to the area in an appropriate manner.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  if HB  148 would  balance out  any                                                               
costs  that the  people in  Mr. Navarre's  borough are  currently                                                               
MAYOR NAVARRE answered  that there is an area  serviced by Cooper                                                               
Landing Emergency  Services, but "it's  not a service area."   He                                                               
reiterated that  the taxable value  in that area, because  of all                                                               
the  federal  land, is  not  significant.   He  commended  Cooper                                                               
Landing for  doing an extraordinary  job in fundraising  but said                                                               
it is  "deficit spending  on an annual  basis about  $40,000" and                                                               
having to  try to raise those  funds to cover that  spending.  He                                                               
emphasized how  overwhelming it becomes  for [Cooper  Landing] to                                                               
serve  its  community and  spend  a  lot  of its  resources  well                                                               
outside its community on the state highway.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER   noted  that   the  Dalton   Highway  is                                                               
referenced in  statute in  regard to the  specifics of  a highway                                                               
corridor, and it states it is 5  miles on both sides and 100 feet                                                               
on either side of the center line.   He asked Mr. Navarre what he                                                               
thinks is appropriate.                                                                                                          
MAYOR NAVARRE responded that he  does not think [this definition]                                                               
is  critical,   because  "we're   still  going  to   provide  the                                                               
responses."  He  reemphasized the problem is that  more than half                                                               
of  the emergency  responses outside  of Cooper  Landing are  for                                                               
people  who are  passing through  - not  residents -  and HB  148                                                               
would  allow  the legal  authority  to  set  up a  structure  for                                                               
additional coverage.                                                                                                            
8:51:45 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WESTLAKE  expressed   support  for  "getting  the                                                               
authority out  there."  He said  he has traveled the  road, which                                                               
he characterized  as having "a  lot of lonely stretches,"  and he                                                               
commended  Mr.  Navarre for  bringing  forward  this issue.    He                                                               
alluded to accidents that happen along  the corridor.  He said he                                                               
feels badly  about the money  coming out of [the  Kenai Peninsula                                                               
Borough's] coffers, thus encouraged Mr.  Navarre to look for more                                                               
PILT money.                                                                                                                     
8:52:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  PARISH asked  if  the  emergency responses  essentially                                                               
would be provided by CES.                                                                                                       
MAYOR NAVARRE  said he thinks  some of  it would, because  CES is                                                               
the   largest  professional   department   in  close   proximity,                                                               
depending  on  the  location  of  the  other  communities.    The                                                               
proposed  legislation  would give  the  legal  authority [for  an                                                               
emergency response service] to respond  outside of its area.  The                                                               
federal PILT,  he said, would  allow the borough to  access grant                                                               
funding  and other  funding sources  in order  to supplement  the                                                               
service  to  ensure  it  does  not use  too  much  of  its  funds                                                               
currently being used  elsewhere in its budget.  He  said it comes                                                               
down to  a question  of priorities  and "in  this case,  we think                                                               
that this service is critically important."                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  PARISH  observed  that   the  Turnagain  Pass  area  is                                                               
significantly   closer  to   Girdwood  and   Portage  than   "any                                                               
substantial community"  in Mr.  Navarre's borough.   He  asked if                                                               
[Girdwood  and Portage]  have picked  up  the slack  in terms  of                                                               
helping those who get in accidents.                                                                                             
MAYOR NAVARRE responded that Cooper  Landing has a volunteer fire                                                               
department  and emergency  medical  services that  cover a  large                                                               
portion of  that area.   He added, "They are  also a part  of the                                                               
Municipality of Anchorage."                                                                                                     
8:55:01 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  questioned how the  proposed legislation                                                               
may affect the borough in terms of equipment.                                                                                   
MAYOR NAVARRE  answered that Cooper  Landing has  some equipment,                                                               
but not as much as CES  or some of the other professional service                                                               
areas, and Cooper Landing often  does not have enough volunteers.                                                               
He pointed  out that being a  volunteer takes a person  away from                                                               
his/her family life,  and he reiterated that many  of the seniors                                                               
who love to volunteer may  have restrictions in terms of physical                                                               
ability.   Further, the level  of resources is inconsistent.   He                                                               
reiterated  that  the  borough  has been  successful  in  getting                                                               
volunteer trainees to help out in  Cooper Landing.  Under HB 148,                                                               
the  borough  would  have the  ability  to  coordinate  training,                                                               
stipends, and the other costs of emergency response coverage.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER shared  that  he had  the experience  of                                                               
traveling from  Cooper Landing to  Kenai in an ambulance,  and he                                                               
appreciates the  volunteers, the distance that  must be traveled,                                                               
and the proposed legislation.                                                                                                   
8:57:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER   said  he  would  like   an  appropriate                                                               
definition of emergency services.                                                                                               
MAYOR NAVARRE  responded that he is  not sure how it  is defined,                                                               
but "what we're intending for this  purpose is fire and EMS."  He                                                               
said having  volunteer law enforcement  officers would  create "a                                                               
whole additional set of concerns."                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  asked Mr. Navarre  if he would  object if                                                               
the committee  was to "define  that narrowly enough  to encompass                                                               
... fire and EMS services in this bill."                                                                                        
MAYOR NAVARRE answered  that he does not think it  necessary.  He                                                               
said the  committee should have  a letter from the  Department of                                                               
Public  Safety (DPS),  in which  the  department recognizes  "the                                                               
8:59:40 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR FANSLER thanked Mr. Navarre  for his testimony.  He said                                                               
he has  driven the corridor  in question and  appreciates knowing                                                               
that people can be safe there.                                                                                                  
MAYOR  NAVARRE   indicated  a  willingness  to   field  questions                                                               
following the meeting,  either directly or through  the office of                                                               
the prime sponsor.                                                                                                              
9:00:23 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR FANSLER opened public testimony on HB 148.                                                                             
9:00:37 AM                                                                                                                    
GEORGE PIERCE  testified in opposition  to HB  148.  He  said the                                                               
federal PILT  - once put  into the general  fund (GF) -  could be                                                               
spent  anywhere.   He noted  that Mr.  Navarre had  said that  20                                                               
percent of the approximately $3  million in PILT would be roughly                                                               
$5,000 going into the project, and  he said that amount would not                                                               
cover much.  He listed the  following necessities:  a fire house,                                                               
emergency vehicles,  trained staff,  health care,  and retirement                                                               
funds.   He offered his  understanding that Mr. Navarre  had said                                                               
that [the  proposed services] would  be federally funded  but had                                                               
also added  that the residents will  end up paying for  them.  He                                                               
said currently the community of  Hope is conducting business with                                                               
the  borough to  put in  sidewalks along  the highway,  and as  a                                                               
former volunteer firefighter of many  years, he said that helped.                                                               
He said, "If that's all you're  going to do is protect your house                                                               
from fire and  emergencies for medical, a  volunteer ... services                                                               
is perfect for that."                                                                                                           
MR. PIERCE continued as follows:                                                                                                
     We  cannot  afford to  just  keep  putting these  major                                                                    
     projects up there and expecting  to ... build all these                                                                    
     infrastructures.  This is a  bad idea; I do not approve                                                                    
     of this.   The borough will end up putting  all this on                                                                    
     the  backs  of the  Kenai  residents,  and we're  in  a                                                                    
     deficit right now;  we cannot afford this.   ... People                                                                    
     that  live  down in  this  borough  just voted  on  ...                                                                    
     certain taxes  being raised, and  they were  all turned                                                                    
     down.   So, this  is just another  scam of  the borough                                                                    
     trying  to get  land to  where they  can control.   And                                                                    
     it's  not  about the  emergencies.    Every time  I  go                                                                    
     through there  and there's an accident,  there's always                                                                    
     [Alaska State] Troopers or  an emergency vehicle there.                                                                    
     So,  if  they're  worried  about  more  protection  for                                                                    
     emergency  service along  the  highway corridor,  maybe                                                                    
     the  legislators ought  to give  them some  more police                                                                    
9:03:39 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR FANSLER, after  ascertaining that there was  no one else                                                               
who wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 148.                                                                       
9:04:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER stated  his intent to work  with the prime                                                               
sponsor to add a definition  of "emergency services" and possibly                                                               
one of "highway corridor" to HB 148.                                                                                            
9:04:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  said he  would  like  comment from  Mr.                                                               
Navarre regarding the infrastructure  [Mr. Pierce] had said would                                                               
be necessary.                                                                                                                   
9:05:30 AM                                                                                                                    
LARRY  PERSILY, Chief  of Staff,  Kenai Peninsula  Borough, noted                                                               
that  Mr. Navarre  was  not currently  available,  thus he  would                                                               
respond  to Representative  Rauscher's request.   He  stated that                                                               
currently  the  borough is  not  proposing  or contemplating  any                                                               
construction  or  new  fire  station as  part  of  the  emergency                                                               
services  area, which  he said  would be  limited to  the highway                                                               
right-of-way.   He said  existing staff  and facilities  would be                                                               
used.  If,  in the future, the borough, in  consultation with the                                                               
existing emergency service providers  in Cooper Landing and Hope,                                                               
and  the staff  in CES,  decide there  is a  need for  additional                                                               
equipment to  cover [emergency services],  then that would  be "a                                                               
borough  decision to  make for  ...  the borough  assembly and  a                                                               
borough financial decision as to how to pay for it."                                                                            
9:07:25 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WESTLAKE  expressed hope that the  committee would                                                               
not restrict the bill too much,  because he would like help to be                                                               
given to those who need the help irrespective of borders.                                                                       
9:08:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP offered response  to former queries.  First,                                                               
he noted that the information  Representative Rauscher had sought                                                               
regarding various classes  of cities and boroughs  could be found                                                               
under  AS  29.200,  210,  and   220.    Next,  regarding  highway                                                               
corridors, he  said the Dalton  Highway Corridor is the  only one                                                               
he knows of  that extends out to  five miles, and that  has to do                                                               
with  an "archery  only" hunting  restriction  in that  file-mile                                                               
area.   He  suggested that  if the  committee is  concerned about                                                               
corridors, it might define them as DOT rights-of-way.                                                                           
CO-CHAIR FANSLER announced that HB 148 was held over.                                                                           
9:09:37 AM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee meeting was                                                                   
adjourned at 9:10 a.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 148 Sponsor Statement.PDF HCRA 3/7/2017 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/9/2017 8:00:00 AM
HB 148
HB 148-Legal Opinion.pdf HCRA 3/7/2017 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/9/2017 8:00:00 AM
HB 148
HB0148A.pdf HCRA 3/7/2017 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/9/2017 8:00:00 AM
HB 148
HB148-DCCED-DCRA-03-03-17.pdf HCRA 3/7/2017 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/9/2017 8:00:00 AM
HB 148
HB 148-Highway corridor service area map.pdf HCRA 3/7/2017 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/9/2017 8:00:00 AM
HB 148
AS 29.35.490.docx HCRA 3/7/2017 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/9/2017 8:00:00 AM
HB 148
HB148 Support Letter to Rep. Chenault 03.03.17.pdf HCRA 3/7/2017 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/9/2017 8:00:00 AM
HB 148
HB148 Incorporated Cities Within Organized Boroughs List.pdf HCRA 3/7/2017 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/9/2017 8:00:00 AM
HB 148