Legislature(1999 - 2000)
05/12/1999 02:20 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE May 12, 1999 2:20 P.M. TAPE HFC 99 - 130, Side 1. TAPE HFC 99 - 130, Side 2. CALL TO ORDER Co-Chair Therriault called the House Finance Committee meeting to order at 2:20 P.M. PRESENT Co-Chair Therriault Representative Foster Co-Chair Mulder Representative Grussendorf Vice Chair Bunde Representative Kohring Representative Austerman Representative Moses Representative J. Davies Representative Williams Representative G. Davis ALSO PRESENT Mike Tibbles, Staff, Representative Gene Therriault; Wilda Rodman, Staff, Representative Gene Therriault; Pat Carter, Staff, Senator Drue Pearce; Representative Joe Green; Representative Jim Whitaker. TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE Robin Brena, TESORO, Anchorage; Jimmy Jackson, GCI, Anchorage; Robert Mintz, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law, Anchorage. SUMMARY HB 62 An Act relating to the Alaska Public Utilities Commission; and providing for an effective date. HB 62 was not heard and was HELD in Committee until further notice. HB 183 An Act relating to the powers and duties of the chair of the Alaska Public Utilities Commission; relating to membership on the Alaska Public Utilities Commission; and relating to the annual report of the Alaska Public Utilities Commission. HB 183 was not heard and was HELD in Committee until further notice. SB 133 An Act creating and providing for the Alaska Energy Conservation Commission and transferring to it the powers and duties of the Alaska Public Utilities Commission and the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; repealing the Alaska Public Utilities Commission and the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; relating to regulation of waste collection and disposal; relating to the powers of the chair of the Alaska Energy Conservation Commission; relating to the appellate procedures of the Alaska Energy Conservation Commission; and providing for an effective date. SB 133 was HELD in Committee for further consideration. SB 134 An Act authorizing the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to determine the amount of and to collect a charge for operating wells subject to the commission's jurisdiction, and to allocate expenses of investigation and hearing, and repealing the oil and gas conservation tax; and providing for an effective date." SB 134 was HELD in Committee for further consideration. SB133 SENATE BILL NO. 133 An Act creating and providing for the Alaska Energy Conservation Commission and transferring to it the powers and duties of the Alaska Public Utilities Commission and the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; repealing the Alaska Public Utilities Commission and the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; relating to regulation of waste collection and disposal; relating to the powers of the chair of the Alaska Energy Conservation Commission; relating to the appellate procedures of the Alaska Energy Conservation Commission; and providing for an effective date. Co-Chair Therriault advised that the version before Committee members addressed concerns brought forward in the previous committee hearings. Representative J. Davies MOVED to adopt work draft version 1-LS077\T, Cramer, 5/12/99, as the version before the Committee. There being NO OBJECTION, it was adopted. WILDA RODMAN, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE GENE THERRIAULT, explained the changes made to the committee substitute. Representative Williams questioned how the commission would understand that there was public interest. Co-Chair Therriault explained that the Commission would establish a mechanism to determine public interest and then would direct the Chair to request public participation when appropriate. PATRICK CARTER, STAFF, SENATOR DRUE PEARCE, added, currently, the Commissioners on the Alaska Public Utilities Commission (APUC) determine when it is in public interest and they then represent the public before the Commission. He suggested that be a separate section. Representative J. Davies questioned if the present appeal process would be dealt with through the Courts. Ms. Rodman replied that in current regulation, there is an appeal process established by industry. Senator Pearce and Representative Therriault acknowledge that there should be adequate recourse for appeal. Representative J. Davies asked the process. Mr. Carter explained it would consist of petitioning for reconsideration and that the Commission at this time does not have the ability to act as a three-commission panel. That was an effort brought forward by Senator Pearce to streamline the process. The intent is that the Chairman assigns the appropriate number of commissioners to the panel based by the magnitude of the case. Representative J. Davies cautioned that following the process, it would go to Court. Co-Chair Therriault pointed out that current regulations allow the appeal of the five-members. The regulations need to be updated for the interim. Representative J. Davies advised that in current statute, a three commissioner hearing is not allowed, however, it is being proposed in the legislation. He asked if a matter was heard by three commissioners and then requested reconsideration, would that occur by the original commissioners or by the entire Commission. Mr. Carter explained that under current regulation, the full commission makes the reconsideration. As currently written, it would go to the full commission. Co-Chair Therriault mentioned his intent that the Committee should consider a two-year sunset. He understood that some changes would not be fully implemented until that time, although, it would be prudent to revisit them. Representative J. Davies inquired if the proposed legislation intended to have Legislative Budget and Audit Committee (LBA) consider the issues next year. Co-Chair Therriault replied that the legislation would request LBA to check out AOGCC and present a report of possible merging the two. That would be separate legislation. Representative Austerman inquired if the proposed legislation retained any of HB 183. Ms. Rodman replied that it does, the language for removal for cause. Current APUC has a different removal clause, and that language was kept. Mr. Carter pointed out that additional language had been added, "inability to serve" to Page 2. Ms. Rodman advised that HB 183 had substantially changed the powers of the chair, and with the exception of two points, SB 133 assumed those changes. Ms. Rodman continued, HB 183 mandated that APUC incorporate a management information system, which SB 133 kept. An important aspect was the addition of arbitrators, and that industry had noted that they wanted settlement techniques and arbitrators to be added. Representative Bunde understood that HB 183 removed the qualification listed on Page 2, Lines 9-14, which limited the talent pool of available commissioners. He asked why the language was put back in SB 133. Co-Chair Therriault explained that there had been a lot of discussion in the House Labor and Commerce Committee regarding qualifications, at which time, Senator Pearce objected to the qualifications. However, now she indicated reconsideration on how the qualification should read. Nothing has been received to date. Co-Chair Therriault urged that some qualifications are needed. Representative J. Davies commented that there had been discussion on the utility meeting concern. He concurred with the proposed changes and the removal of the category restriction. He applauded removal of the political party affliction. Co-Chair Therriault MOVED to adopt Amendment #1. [Copy on File]. Mr. Carter explained that the amendment would include the interest of a public utility or a pipeline carrier. Representative Bunde noted that was an area of concern. He questioned if other areas should be limited. He urged that a conflict of interest should address everyone or at least provide a broader prohibition. Mr. Carter replied that language is in current statute. Representative Bunde MOVED an amendment to the amendment, which would excise language on Page 4, Line 4 (a) through Line 9. Representative G. Davis stated that would address unrelated information to the amendment. Co-Chair Therriault explained to Representative Bunde that he would like to adopt Amendment #1 as a technical cleanup and requested that his amendment be handled separately. Representative Bunde WITHDREW the Amendment to the Amendment. Representative Austerman asked if the language of the amendment was in current statute. Mr. Carter stated it is. There being NO OBJECTION, it was adopted. Co-Chair Therriault MOVED to adopt Amendment #2. [Copy on File]. Mr. Carter indicated that the amendment would delete redundant language within the bill. Representative J. Davies advised that funding had been included in the budget, however, instruction to hire a hearing officer was not included. He argued that the language be left as a signal of intent. Co-Chair Therriault voiced his preference of not including that language in statute. However, intent language could be included within the operating budget. Representative J. Davies disagreed, noting that the language would be stronger left in. Co-Chair Therriault WITHDREW Amendment #2. There being NO OBJECTION, it was withdrawn. Representative J. Davies asked what would happen if HB 40 was not adopted. Co-Chair Therriault considered the possibility if HB 40 was passed and the Committee decided to keep the old departmental names, language would be conformed. MIKE TIBBLES, STAFF, REPRESENTIVE GENE THERRIAULT, explained that a reviser note had been included in HB 40 to catch all references. Co-Chair Therriault MOVED to adopt Amendment #3. [Copy on File]. REPRESENTATIVE JIM WHITAKER stated that the Amendment would establish that the State has the right to basic information and that the State is an equal partner with industry in relationship to State resources. Additionally, the amendment provides for a method to resolve intergovernmental disputes. He pointed out that one argument against the amendment originated from the industry. They have indicated that time and effort have been brought forward addressing the issue. He noted he was particularly interested in the argument of sharing information. Representative Whitaker requested that Amendment #3 be withdrawn until further discussion occurs with industry. Co-Chair Therriault MOVED to WITHDRAW Amendment #3. There being NO OBJECTION, it was withdrawn. ROBIN BRENA, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), TESORO, ANCHORAGE, spoke in support of a portion of SB 133 which separates staff advocacy and advisory roles. (Tape Change HFC 99 - 130, Side 2). Mr. Brena pointed out that the concern for changing staff is more important than ever, as the work of the Commission will be fundamentally restructuring several industries. He emphasized that this is not a good time to confuse the roles of staffing. Additionally, TESORO believes that there needs to be a proper public advocacy section. Currently, there is no policy and it does not flow well. He reiterated that section should be properly funded and staffed. Representative J. Davies asked if Mr. Brena supports the proposed committee substitute. Mr. Brena stated that he preferred the previous version, however, does agree with downloading the commission issue and the need to allocate staff resources. Co-Chair Therriault advised that he had recommended that the prime sponsor offer intent language to adequately address staffing. JIMMY JACKSON, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), GCI, ANCHORAGE, commented that GCI would withdraw the request that to keep staffing the way it currently exists. SB 133 was HELD in Committee for further consideration. SENATE BILL NO. 134 An Act authorizing the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to determine the amount of and to collect a charge for operating wells subject to the commission's jurisdiction, and to allocate expenses of investigation and hearing, and repealing the oil and gas conservation tax; and providing for an effective date. Co-Chair Therriault MOVED to adopt Amendment #1. [Copy on File]. ROBERT MINTZ, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF LAW, commented that the amendment addresses program receipts. The bill guarantees that regulatory cost charge receipts would be treated as program receipts. He added, that there are other receipts addressed in Section 1, which should also be addressed with this formula. There being NO OBJECTION, Amendment #1 was adopted. Co-Chair Therriault MOVED to adopt Amendment #2. [Copy on File]. Mr. Mintz explained that Amendment #2 would clarify cost charge related to regulatory wells. Each charge is based on guaranteeing that the well is properly accounted for. He continued, current language in Subsection A describes only wells with reference to one criterion. As currently written, the second criteria describes a person, not a well. To avoid confusion, the Department is suggesting that the language be written so that the criteria describes a well. There being NO OBJECTION, Amendment #2 was adopted. Co-Chair Therriault MOVED to adopt Amendment #3. [Copy on File]. Mr. Carter explained that language was added in the "spirit of compromise" with industry. The amendment would obligate AOGCC to attend to all ratepayers within 30 days of their budget. Representative J. Davies questioned the estimated time, voicing concern that this element of the budget would be made public prior to the Governor submitting it. Representative G. Davis questioned the number of other statutory receipts, which could begin to "snow-ball". Mr. Carter pointed out that making the change would be "up to the will of the Committee". A roll call vote was taken on the motion. IN FAVOR: Therriault OPPOSED: Austerman, Bunde, J. Davies, G. Davis, Foster, Grussendorf, Moses, Williams, Mulder Representative Kohring was not present for the vote. The MOTION FAILED (1-9). SB 133 was HELD in Committee for further consideration. ADJOURNMENT The meeting adjourned at 3:35 P.M. H.F.C. 8 5/12/99 p.m.