Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 120

04/12/2006 01:00 PM JUDICIARY


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 482 SCHOOL:BULLYING/HARASSMENT/INTIMIDATION TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 482(JUD) Out of Committee
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled from 04/10/06>
+ SB 261 REGULATION OF HWYS; TRAFFIC OFFENSES TELECONFERENCED
Moved HCS CSSB 261(JUD) Out of Committee
+ HB 434 AUTHORIZE HWY PROGRAM PARTICIPATION TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 434(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 12, 2006                                                                                         
                           1:36 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Lesil McGuire, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Tom Anderson                                                                                                     
Representative John Coghill                                                                                                     
Representative Pete Kott                                                                                                        
Representative Peggy Wilson                                                                                                     
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 482                                                                                                              
"An  Act relating  to harassment,  intimidation, and  bullying in                                                               
schools."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 482(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 434                                                                                                              
"An  Act  authorizing  the  commissioner  of  transportation  and                                                               
public  facilities  to  participate in  certain  federal  highway                                                               
programs and  relating to that authorization;  relating to powers                                                               
of the  attorney general to  waive immunity from suit  in federal                                                               
court related to  those programs; and providing  for an effective                                                               
date."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 434(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 261(FIN)                                                                                                 
"An Act relating to the  designation of traffic safety corridors;                                                               
relating  to the  bail  or fine  for an  offense  committed in  a                                                               
traffic  safety corridor  and to  separately accounting  for such                                                               
fines; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HCS CSSB 261(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE; ADOPTED A HOUSE                                                                
       CONCURRENT RESOLUTION ALLOWING THE TITLE CHANGE                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 482                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SCHOOL:BULLYING/HARASSMENT/INTIMIDATION                                                                            
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) ANDERSON                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
02/13/06       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/13/06       (H)       EDU, HES, JUD                                                                                          
03/16/06       (H)       EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                            
03/16/06       (H)       Moved CSHB 482(EDU) Out of Committee                                                                   
03/16/06       (H)       MINUTE(EDU)                                                                                            
03/20/06       (H)       EDU RPT CS(EDU) 1DNP 3NR 1AM                                                                           
03/20/06       (H)       DNP: LYNN;                                                                                             
03/20/06       (H)       NR: GARA, THOMAS, NEUMAN;                                                                              
03/20/06       (H)       AM: GATTO                                                                                              
04/03/06       (H)       FIN REFERRAL ADDED AFTER JUD                                                                           
04/04/06       (H)       HES AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
04/04/06       (H)       <Bill Hearing Postponed to 04/06/06>                                                                   
04/06/06       (H)       HES AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
04/06/06       (H)       -- Rescheduled from 04/04/06 --                                                                        
04/10/06       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
04/10/06       (H)       <Bill Hearing Postponed to 04/12/06>                                                                   
04/11/06       (H)       HES AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
04/11/06       (H)       Moved CSHB 482(HES) Out of Committee                                                                   
04/11/06       (H)       MINUTE(HES)                                                                                            
04/12/06       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 434                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: AUTHORIZE HWY PROGRAM PARTICIPATION                                                                                
SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
02/08/06       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/08/06       (H)       TRA, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
03/14/06       (H)       TRA AT 1:30 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
03/14/06       (H)       Moved Out of Committee                                                                                 
03/14/06       (H)       MINUTE(TRA)                                                                                            
03/15/06       (H)       TRA RPT 4DP 2NR                                                                                        
03/15/06       (H)       DP: KOHRING, NEUMAN, GATTO, ELKINS;                                                                    
03/15/06       (H)       NR: KAPSNER, THOMAS                                                                                    
04/12/06       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 261                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: REGULATION OF HWYS; TRAFFIC OFFENSES                                                                               
SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
02/01/06       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/01/06       (S)       TRA, FIN                                                                                               
02/09/06       (H)       TRA AT 1:30 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
02/09/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/09/06       (S)       MINUTE(TRA)                                                                                            
03/09/06       (S)       TRA AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/09/06       (S)       Moved CSSB 261(TRA) Out of Committee                                                                   
03/09/06       (S)       MINUTE(TRA)                                                                                            
03/15/06       (S)       TRA RPT CS  3DP  SAME TITLE                                                                            
03/15/06       (S)       DP: HUGGINS, FRENCH, KOOKESH                                                                           
03/21/06       (S)       FIN AT 9:00 AM SENATE FINANCE 532                                                                      
03/21/06       (S)       Moved CSSB 261(FIN) Out of Committee                                                                   
03/21/06       (S)       MINUTE(FIN)                                                                                            
03/22/06       (S)       FIN RPT CS  5DP 1NR  SAME TITLE                                                                        
03/22/06       (S)       DP:   WILKEN,   GREEN,   BUNDE,   DYSON,                                                               
                         STEDMAN                                                                                                
03/22/06       (S)       NR: OLSON                                                                                              
04/05/06       (S)       TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                                                                     
04/05/06       (S)       VERSION: CSSB 261(FIN)                                                                                 
04/06/06       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/06/06       (H)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
04/12/06       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CRYSTAL NOVOTNEY, Staff                                                                                                         
to Representative Tom Anderson                                                                                                  
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 482 on behalf of the sponsor,                                                                 
Representative Anderson.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
BILL BJORK, President                                                                                                           
NEA-Alaska (National Education Association, Alaska branch)                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided comments during discussion of                                                                     
HB 482.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
JOHN MACKINNON, Deputy Commissioner of Highways & Public                                                                        
Facilities                                                                                                                      
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF)                                                                       
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 434 on behalf of the                                                                          
administration and responded to questions; presented SB 261 on                                                                  
behalf of the administration and responded to questions.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
PETER PUTZIER, Senior Assistant Attorney General                                                                                
Transportation Section                                                                                                          
Civil Division (Juneau)                                                                                                         
Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to  questions during discussion of                                                               
HB 434; responded to questions during discussion of SB 261.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JAMES A. HELGOE, Lieutenant, Legislative Liaison                                                                                
Division of Alaska State Troopers                                                                                               
Department of Public Safety (DPS)                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Responded  to a question  during discussion                                                               
of SB 261.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
KURTIS J. SMITH, P.E., Statewide Traffic & Safety Engineer                                                                      
Design & Construction Standards                                                                                                 
Division of Design & Engineering Services                                                                                       
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF)                                                                       
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Responded  to a question  during discussion                                                               
of SB 261.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LESIL   McGUIRE  called   the  House   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order at  1:36:03  PM.    Representatives                                                             
McGuire, Kott, Wilson, Anderson, and  Coghill were present at the                                                               
call to  order.   Representatives Gara  and Gruenberg  arrived as                                                               
the meeting was in progress.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HB 482 - SCHOOL:BULLYING/HARASSMENT/INTIMIDATION                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:36:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  first order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  BILL   NO.  482,  "An  Act   relating  to  harassment,                                                               
intimidation, and  bullying in schools."   [Before  the committee                                                               
was CSHB 482(HES).]                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON,  speaking as  the sponsor,  relayed that                                                               
his staff would present HB 482.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:36:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CRYSTAL NOVOTNEY,  Staff to  Representative Tom  Anderson, Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  sponsor, relayed on behalf  of Representative                                                               
Anderson  that  HB 482  address  a  growing problem  in  Alaska's                                                               
schools that is often overlooked  by teachers and administrators.                                                               
Bullying has  a truly negative  effect on the  social environment                                                               
of  schools,  and on  the  emotional  and  mental well  being  of                                                               
Alaska's children.  Recent studies  suggest that bullying creates                                                               
a  climate of  fear  among students,  inhibits  their ability  to                                                               
learn,  and   leads  to  other   anti-social  behavior   such  as                                                               
vandalism,  shoplifting, skipping  and  dropping  out of  school,                                                               
fighting, and using  drugs and alcohol.   Furthermore, 60 percent                                                               
of the males studied who were  bullies in grades six through nine                                                               
were  convicted of  at least  one crime  as an  adult, and  35-40                                                               
percent of these former bullies  had three or more convictions by                                                               
the age  of 24.   Only 15  of the 53  school districts  in Alaska                                                               
have made  an attempt to  address the  bullying issue.   With the                                                               
increase in students in Alaska today,  there is a growing need to                                                               
ensure  the  safety  of  Alaska's   children  in  their  learning                                                               
environment.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. NOVOTNEY  said that  HB 482  requires school  districts, city                                                               
and borough  offices of education, law  enforcement agencies, and                                                               
youth-serving  agencies  to  develop  and  implement  interagency                                                               
strategies  on bullying  and harassment.    Currently, 21  states                                                               
have some  sort of anti-bullying  law, and another 24  states are                                                               
in  the  process  of  adopting  similar  legislation.    Members'                                                               
packets  contain endorsement  letters by  the National  Education                                                               
Association  (NEA), the  Alaska  Network on  Domestic Violence  &                                                               
Sexual   Assault  (ANDVSA),   and  [Allan   A.  Morotti,   Ph.D.,                                                               
University  of Fairbanks].   Bullying  is  a problem  everywhere,                                                               
even in Alaska, and its  causes and effects cannot be overlooked.                                                               
This bill  not only gives  teachers and  administration officials                                                               
the tools to deal with such  a growing issue, but also allows for                                                               
input from  parents, guardians,  students, and  concerned members                                                               
of  the  community  during the  development  of  a  comprehensive                                                               
bullying policy.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  NOVOTNEY  relayed  that   successful  programs  focusing  on                                                               
recognizing, preventing, and  effectively intervening in bullying                                                               
behavior  have  improved  safety  and created  a  more  inclusive                                                               
learning  environment.   Some  such  programs include  in-service                                                               
training and  other activities to  improve school  attendance and                                                               
reduce school crime and violence.   House Bill 482 is targeted at                                                               
reducing vandalism,  drug and alcohol abuse,  gang membership and                                                               
violence,  hate  crimes,  bullying,  teen-relationship  violence,                                                               
discrimination, and all  harassment, including sexual harassment,                                                               
in  grades  K-12.    The House  Special  Committee  on  Education                                                               
revised the  bill, eliminating the mandate  that school districts                                                               
have  an actual  bullying  policy.   However,  the House  Health,                                                               
Education  and Social  Services Standing  Committee, amended  the                                                               
bill  back to  the original  form so  that school  districts must                                                               
implement  such a  policy,  and added  sexual  orientation as  an                                                               
additional [target] of bullying.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. NOVOTNEY,  in conclusion, said  that ultimately, HB  482 will                                                               
protect  Alaska's  children,   discipline  unruly  students,  and                                                               
instill in Alaska's schools a  message of civility and respect or                                                               
suffer  the consequences.   She  offered  her understanding  that                                                               
CSHB  482(HES) now  has  a  zero fiscal  note,  and relayed  that                                                               
Representative  Anderson urges  the committee's  support of  this                                                               
important legislation  and thanks Representatives  McGuire, Kott,                                                               
and Gruenberg for their co-sponsorship of the bill.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:41:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BILL   BJORK,    President,   NEA-Alaska    (National   Education                                                               
Association, Alaska  branch), after relaying that  NEA-Alaska has                                                               
submitted a letter of support  and testimony to the House Special                                                               
Committee on Education, stated that  every school in Alaska ought                                                               
be  a sanctuary  where all  students can  learn and  teachers can                                                               
teach and  all school employees  and the general public  can work                                                               
without the fear of intimidation  or harassment.  Many schools in                                                               
Alaska  are already  engaged  in good  efforts  to address  these                                                               
issues,  and [CSHB  482(HES)] guarantees  that every  school will                                                               
take the  steps necessary  to provide a  good school  climate for                                                               
learning that is  safe for everyone.  He thanked  the sponsor and                                                               
co-sponsors   of   the   bill,   and  the   committee   for   its                                                               
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE, after  ascertaining that  no one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 482.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:42:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT referred to language  on page 2, line 18, and                                                               
suggested  that  it  ought  to  stipulate  that  the  information                                                               
referenced  shall be  reported to  the appropriate  committees of                                                               
the "Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska Senate".                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON said he would support such a change.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE,  calling   the  aforementioned  suggested  change                                                               
Amendment  1, asked  whether there  were any  objections.   There                                                               
being none, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
[Following  was a  brief discussion  regarding other  legislation                                                               
pertaining to similar issues.]                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA indicated that he is supportive of HB 482.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:46:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  moved to report  CSHB 482(HES),  as amended,                                                               
out  of   committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  the                                                               
accompanying zero  fiscal note.   There being no  objection, CSHB
482(JUD)  was   reported  from   the  House   Judiciary  Standing                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HB 434 - AUTHORIZE HWY PROGRAM PARTICIPATION                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:46:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  434,  "An Act  authorizing  the commissioner  of                                                               
transportation and  public facilities  to participate  in certain                                                               
federal  highway programs  and  relating  to that  authorization;                                                               
relating  to powers  of the  attorney general  to waive  immunity                                                               
from  suit  in  federal  court related  to  those  programs;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:47:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  MACKINNON,   Deputy  Commissioner  of  Highways   &  Public                                                               
Facilities,   Office   of   the   Commissioner,   Department   of                                                               
Transportation &  Public Facilities (DOT&PF), explained  that the                                                               
Safe,  Accountable,  Flexible,  Efficient  Transportation  Equity                                                               
Act:  A  Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), included  a pilot program                                                               
-  the  [National  Environmental   Policy  Act  of  1969  (NEPA)]                                                               
delegation pilot program - for  five states:  Alaska, California,                                                               
Oklahoma, Ohio, and  Texas.  This pilot program  gives these five                                                               
states the  ability to apply  for delegation of the  secretary of                                                               
the  U.S. Department  of Transportation's  NEPA responsibilities;                                                               
under  this  pilot  program,  the  state  will  assume  the  NEPA                                                               
decision-making responsibility  that is  currently -  for highway                                                               
programs   -   under  the   purview   of   the  Federal   Highway                                                               
Administration (FHWA).                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.   MACKINNON  said   that  this   [pilot  program]   puts  the                                                               
responsibility  on   the  DOT&PF  to  determine   what  level  of                                                               
environmental   documentation  is   required,  whether   it's  an                                                               
environmental   impact   statement    (EIS),   an   environmental                                                               
assessment, or  a categorical  exclusion.   He explained  that 95                                                               
percent of what the DOT&PF  does are categorical exclusions - for                                                               
example, repaving a  road requires a "CATEX" - but  very few EISs                                                               
are done -  perhaps only two or  three a year - and  only about a                                                               
half  dozen  environmental  assessments  are  done.    Currently,                                                               
though, the  state doesn't determine  what type  of documentation                                                               
is required;  instead, this  determination is  made by  the FHWA.                                                               
Participating  in  the pilot  program  will  not result  in  less                                                               
environmental  protection, but  it will  put the  decision-making                                                               
process in the hands of the state.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE surmised  that HB  434 was  referred to  the House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee because Section  1 of the bill would                                                               
affect  the  attorney general's  power  in  that it  would  allow                                                               
him/her to waive the state's immunity from federal court.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON concurred.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA asked  how much  it will  cost the  state to                                                               
take over  a job that  the federal government is  currently doing                                                               
for  the  state  for  free.   For  example,  how  much  would  it                                                               
typically  cost  the  state  to defend  itself  against  a  legal                                                               
challenge regarding the way it  performs its [EISs, environmental                                                               
assessments,  or  CATEXs]?   Also,  what  percentage  of  highway                                                               
projects get litigated under the NEPA?                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:52:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PETER PUTZIER, Senior  Assistant Attorney General, Transportation                                                               
Section,  Civil  Division  (Juneau),  Department  of  Law  (DOL),                                                               
offered his  belief that it's  unlikely that a lot  of litigation                                                               
will occur, since  most of the projects that the  DOT&PF works on                                                               
have six- to eight-year lead  times, whereas the pilot program is                                                               
slated to  last only six  years.  Furthermore, very  few projects                                                               
will go through the entire  environmental process that results in                                                               
an EIS.   He mentioned that  he doesn't know what  the statistics                                                               
are  with  regard to  what  percentage  of highway  projects  get                                                               
litigated under the NEPA.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON added  that since passage of the  NEPA, [the state]                                                               
has been challenged on only  two projects:  the "Whittier Tunnel"                                                               
- in which the FHWA  prevailed; and the "Iliamna-Nondalton bridge                                                               
project" - in which [the DOT&PF] has so far prevailed.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA predicted  that the  "Knik Arm  Bridge" will                                                               
also get  litigated, and that  such litigation will  occur before                                                               
the aforementioned  six- to eight-year  period is concluded.   If                                                               
this proves true,  would the state have to defend  itself in that                                                               
litigation?                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MACKINNON explained  that because  that project  was started                                                               
under  the purview  of  the FHWA,  the  federal government  would                                                               
continue to defend  that project.  Under HB 434,  the state would                                                               
only  be  responsible  for defending  itself  against  litigation                                                               
engendered  by projects  that the  state begins  after it's  been                                                               
accepted into the pilot project.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON  in response to  a question, said that  the federal                                                               
law authorizing  the pilot  project went  into effect  August 10,                                                               
2005,  and is  slated  to  sunset on  August  10,  2011.   "We're                                                               
halfway through [the] first year," he added.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KOTT  and   REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   pondered                                                               
whether a sunset clause ought to be added to the bill.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON  offered his  belief that  such won't  be necessary                                                               
because  the federal  legislation authorizing  the pilot  program                                                               
already  has  a   sunset  clause,  a  sunset   clause  that  will                                                               
effectively  terminate the  states' participation  on August  10,                                                               
2011.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. PUTZIER concurred.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:58:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  offered his  understanding that  inserting a                                                               
sunset clause will ensure that  the revisor automatically removes                                                               
the  proposed  language  from  statute  after  the  sunset  date,                                                               
whereas without a  sunset clause, the proposed  language will end                                                               
up being left on the books.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  concurred, pointing out that  the state                                                               
could  potentially  be  saddled  with lawsuits  as  a  result  of                                                               
participating in the pilot program.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. PUTZIER said he would research the issue.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE observed that HB 434  has also been referred to the                                                               
House Finance Committee.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL predicted  that  the  five new  positions                                                               
created by  HB 434 won't simply  go away after the  pilot project                                                               
terminates unless a sunset clause is added to the bill.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MACKINNON pointed  out  that the  state  would be  receiving                                                               
federal  funds to  pay  for those  positions,  which are  capital                                                               
improvement project (CIP)  positions.  With regard to  HB 434, he                                                               
said:                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     We look at  this as an opportunity to speed  up many of                                                                    
     these  environmental  documents   by  getting  the  big                                                                    
     decisions  closer  to  home, and  when  a  document  is                                                                    
     sitting  on a  desk in  the  [FHWA] ...  or some  other                                                                    
     federal agency, we  have a difficult time  when we pick                                                                    
     up the  phone and try ...  [to] speed it up  and get it                                                                    
     off that desk  and either approved or  disapproved - or                                                                    
     getting  some   action  on  it  -   because  they're  a                                                                    
     different  agency.    But   when  those  decisions  are                                                                    
     sitting  in  the  [DOT&PF], ...  it's  much  easier  to                                                                    
     affect their movement through the  [DOT&PF], and we see                                                                    
     the opportunity  here of moving them  through faster as                                                                    
     a way  of actually  more than  paying for  the $650,000                                                                    
     cost of  the program; [a]  one year delay of  a project                                                                    
     can cost  millions of dollars  to that project  just in                                                                    
     inflation alone.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:00:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. PUTZIER, in response to  a question regarding the requirement                                                               
that the  state waive  its immunity from  suit in  federal court,                                                               
said  that   [under  SAFETEA-LU,]  it   is  simply  one   of  the                                                               
requirements  of the  pilot program.   He  surmised that  this is                                                               
because under the  pilot program, the state  would essentially be                                                               
fulfilling a role of the FHWA.   In response to another question,                                                               
he said that if the state  didn't prevail in such lawsuit and the                                                               
position  the state  took  in  the action  was  found  to not  be                                                               
substantially justified,  then the  state might get  saddled with                                                               
paying some attorney fees, for example, to the prevailing party.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  how  much money  the state  will                                                               
receive as a result of participating in the pilot program.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MACKINNON  said no  additional  funds  will be  forthcoming,                                                               
though reauthorization over  the five-year life of  the program -                                                               
"including the earmarks above the  line" - comes to approximately                                                               
$2.5 billion,  a portion  of which  will be used  to pay  for the                                                               
NEPA pilot  program; for example,  when one of  the environmental                                                               
NEPA experts  in the department  is working on a  project, he/she                                                               
will bill out to that particular project.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG surmised,  then, that  the DOT&PF  will                                                               
have access to those funds.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON concurred.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  surmised that the waiver  referenced in                                                               
the  bill is  above and  beyond that  provided in  existing state                                                               
statutes.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:04:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. PUTZIER concurred.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  asked  whether  Section 1  of  HB  434                                                               
waives any additional sovereign  immunity.  Specifically, does it                                                               
additionally affect AS 09.50.250 in any way?                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. PUTZIER replied:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     I believe it  would subject us to  the procedural rules                                                                    
     in federal court.  For  example, we might be subject to                                                                    
     ...  the Equal  Access  [to] Justice  Act, which  might                                                                    
     apply ... different [attorney  fees] provisions. ... We                                                                    
     would  be  standing, basically,  in  the  shoes of  the                                                                    
     FHWA.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.   PUTZIER,   in  response   to   a   question,  offered   his                                                               
understanding that  the Equal Access  to Justice Act  is codified                                                               
in 28 U.S.C.  2412, and reiterated the earlier comment  that as a                                                               
practical  matter  in  environmental  litigation,  if  the  state                                                               
doesn't prevail and the position the  state took in the action is                                                               
found to not be substantially  justified, the state might have to                                                               
pay some attorney fees to the prevailing party.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  asked whether  the  use  of the  term,                                                               
"may"  [in Section  1] is  specifically mandated  by the  federal                                                               
legislation.   In other words,  why is discretion in  this matter                                                               
being given to the attorney general?                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. PUTZIER surmised  that there was a concern  about a potential                                                               
separation of  powers issue  if the  legislature were  to mandate                                                               
that the  attorney general waive  sovereign immunity.   He noted,                                                               
though, that the  federal language says "shall",  and that before                                                               
the  DOT&PF   is  allowed  to   adopt  the   aforementioned  NEPA                                                               
authorities,  the attorney  general would  have to  enter into  a                                                               
memorandum  of understanding  (MOU)  with the  FHWA; also,  there                                                               
would  have to  be "separate  certification," either  project-by-                                                               
project or  for all projects.   The bill itself only  lets Alaska                                                               
get  its  "foot in  the  door"  to be  able  to  assume the  NEPA                                                               
responsibilities; it  is not  in and of  itself an  assumption of                                                               
any  responsibility nor  is it  a waiver  of any  of the  State's                                                               
normal sovereign immunity protections.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  offered  his   belief  that  under  AS                                                               
09.50.250,  it  is the  purview  of  the  legislature -  not  the                                                               
attorney general - to waive sovereign immunity.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. PUTZIER, in response to a  question, said he can't recall any                                                               
statutes written similarly to HB 434.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked whether  the language of Section 1                                                               
meets  the federal  law's  requirement,  particularly given  that                                                               
this proposed state law only says "may".                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. PUTZIER  indicated that this  [issue] was  vetted extensively                                                               
with the  FHWA, and  the language was  approved on  the condition                                                               
that  there be  "sufficient follow-up."   Again,  HB 434  doesn't                                                               
implement anything;  it merely allows  for the  implementation of                                                               
the pilot program by giving the DOT&PF the authority to proceed.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  that  once  the DOT&PF  exercises                                                               
that  authority, he  doesn't  want to  see  the attorney  general                                                               
refuse to waive the state's  immunity from suit in federal court.                                                               
"I think  if somebody  is injured  by the  actions of  the State,                                                               
they should  have access to  federal court," he  remarked, adding                                                               
that he may offer an amendment to that effect.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. PUTZIER indicated that he would  like see the wording of such                                                               
an amendment.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:10:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  asked how the  five states were  chosen, and                                                               
whether  the  other  four  states  have  "fully  fulfilled  their                                                               
commitment for entry."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON  offered his  understanding that  every one  of the                                                               
five  states is  represented by  a "ranking  member" of  the U.S.                                                               
House   of   Representatives   Committee  on   Transportation   &                                                               
Infrastructure,  and  that  the  other   four  states  also  have                                                               
enabling legislation in the works.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON asked  whether  changing  the language  in                                                               
HB 434  would  preclude  Alaska  from being  part  of  the  pilot                                                               
program.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON  explained that  by entering into  an MOU  with the                                                               
FHWA,  the State  shall  be  waiving its  immunity  from suit  in                                                               
federal  court,  and  that  the  bill  drafter  in  the  attorney                                                               
general's office simply chose to  use "may" instead of "shall" in                                                               
HB 434; the MOU itself will still contain a "shall".                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  offered his  recollection that the  State is                                                               
reluctant  to  waive  sovereign  immunity in  one  type  of  case                                                               
because it  might then  have to waive  sovereign immunity  in all                                                               
other types of cases.  He  asked whether the attorney general has                                                               
taken a position  on this issue in  the past and whether  it is a                                                               
concern.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. PUTZIER said he is not  sure whether the attorney general has                                                               
taken  a position  on this  issue,  but acknowledged  that it  is                                                               
probably a valid  concern.  However, [the  language regarding the                                                               
waiver] is very narrowly tailored to  a NEPA program, and so [the                                                               
administration] would only accept being  in federal court for the                                                               
purpose of just that particular  program.  "I don't perceive that                                                               
there  would be  any long-term  negative consequences  of what  I                                                               
will call a limited waiver of sovereign immunity," he remarked.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said  he would like something  to that effect                                                               
in writing from the attorney general's office.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:15:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. PUTZIER agreed to get that for the committee.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL opined  that  the language  of Section  1                                                               
already limits the waiver.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  referred  to Conceptual  Amendment  1,                                                               
which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     p 1 l 7                                                                                                                    
          delete "The attorney general may,"                                                                                    
     Page 1 line 9                                                                                                              
          delete "waive"                                                                                                        
     Page 1 line 11 insert after States                                                                                         
          "is waived."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  whether  the sovereign  immunity                                                               
clause  of   the  Alaska  State   Constitution  should   also  be                                                               
referenced.  [Note  to the reader:  no  clause specifically using                                                               
the  words,  "sovereign  immunity"  exists in  the  Alaska  State                                                               
Constitution.]  In  response to a comment, he said  that he would                                                               
want  that  clause   to  apply  solely  to   "claims  under  this                                                               
paragraph."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  asked whether the  funding that is  meant to                                                               
pay for  this pilot program could  be used for something  else if                                                               
the state did not enter into the pilot program.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON  said yes,  adding, though, that  9 percent  of the                                                               
funds are state funds - a state match.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA surmised, then, that  the other 91 percent of                                                               
the funds  could be used for  some other highway projects  if the                                                               
state did not enter into the pilot program.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON concurred.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  said  that  since there  seem  to  be  more                                                               
highway projects than can be  funded, delaying the groundbreaking                                                               
on  some  of  them  isn't  such a  big  deal;  therefore,  he  is                                                               
questioning why  they would  spend the money  to enter  into this                                                               
pilot project.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:19:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  made  a  motion  to  adopt  Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 1 [text provided previously].                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT and REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON objected.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  made  a  motion  to  amend  Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 1 such  that a reference to "the  relevant provision in                                                               
the [Alaska] State Constitution" is  added after the reference in                                                               
the bill to the U.S. Constitution.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE suggested  that  Representative Gruenberg  instead                                                               
simply  make  a  motion  to  adopt  Conceptual  Amendment  1,  as                                                               
amended.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG agreed.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  objected, indicated that he  would prefer                                                               
to  see  the  language  of   the  provision  that  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg wants referenced, and relayed  that he is nervous about                                                               
waiving sovereign immunity to begin with.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 2:21 p.m. to 2:24 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  made  a  motion  to  amend  Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 1 such that it would read:                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     p 1 l 7                                                                                                                    
          delete "The attorney general may,"                                                                                    
     Page 1 line 9                                                                                                              
          delete "waive"                                                                                                        
       Page 1 line 11 insert after "States" the following                                                                       
     language                                                                                                                   
        "and under Article II, Section 21, of the Alaska                                                                        
     Constitution is waived."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  - noting  that there was  already a  motion before                                                               
the committee  regarding a different  Conceptual Amendment  1, as                                                               
amended -  suggested that the  objections be removed so  that the                                                               
first motion could be withdrawn.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVES  COGHILL,   KOTT,  and  ANDERSON   removed  their                                                               
objection.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG withdrew the first motion.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG   then   made  a   motion   to   adopt                                                               
Amendment 2:                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     p 1 l 7                                                                                                                    
          delete "The attorney general may,"                                                                                    
     Page 1 line 9                                                                                                              
          delete "waive"                                                                                                        
     Page 1 line 11 insert after "States"                                                                                       
        "and under Article II, Section 21, of the Alaska                                                                        
     Constitution is waived."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL objected,  and  stated that  he does  not                                                               
want to waive the Alaska State Constitution.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said  that  that is  not  his  intent;                                                               
specifically, the  waiver would only  be for those  provisions on                                                               
page 1, lines 7-10, and nothing else.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL removed his objection.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:27:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE asked whether there  were any further objections to                                                               
Amendment 2.  There being none, Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT noted that with  the adoption of Amendment 2,                                                               
there will also need to be a conforming title amendment.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE concurred.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE  stated  that Representative  Kott  has  made  the                                                               
motion  to  adopt  Conceptual Amendment  3,  a  conforming  title                                                               
amendment.  There being no  objection, Conceptual Amendment 3 was                                                               
adopted.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT said  he is  not  yet prepared  to offer  an                                                               
amendment  adding a  sunset provision,  but would  be researching                                                               
the issue further.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:28:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON moved to report  HB 434, as amended, out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal  notes.   There  being  no  objection, CSHB  434(JUD)  was                                                               
reported from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SB 261 - REGULATION OF HWYS; TRAFFIC OFFENSES                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:29:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  final order of  business would                                                               
be  CS FOR  SENATE BILL  NO. 261(FIN),  "An Act  relating to  the                                                               
designation of traffic safety corridors;  relating to the bail or                                                               
fine for  an offense committed  in a traffic safety  corridor and                                                               
to separately  accounting for  such fines;  and providing  for an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:30:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  MACKINNON,   Deputy  Commissioner  of  Highways   &  Public                                                               
Facilities,   Office   of   the   Commissioner,   Department   of                                                               
Transportation & Public Facilities  (DOT&PF), relayed that SB 261                                                               
will  give  the  department  the  ability  to  establish  highway                                                               
traffic  safety corridors  and assess  double traffic  fines [for                                                               
violations  occurring   within]  those  highway   traffic  safety                                                               
corridors, which  will be defined as  a stretch of road  that has                                                               
significantly higher  than statewide average fatality  rates.  He                                                               
referred to  a chart,  and noted that  it illustrates  the Seward                                                               
Highway from "Potter Marsh" to  Girdwood and the locations of the                                                               
fatal  accidents that  occurred  on it  from 1997  to  2005.   He                                                               
mentioned that  this past  January there  was a  serious fatality                                                               
caused by a young  driver with a history of bad  driving - he hit                                                               
a  couple  traveling  to  Anchor  Point  and  killed  them.    In                                                               
response, the DOT&PF  got together with the  Department of Public                                                               
Safety (DPS) in order to find some solutions.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MACKINNON relayed  that the  department has  what he  called                                                               
"highway  safety  sanction funds,"  adding  that  they are  "soft                                                               
sanctions  of construction  dollars that  are pulled  out of  the                                                               
construction  side that  go into  education."   He said  that the                                                               
department  was  able  to  use  that  money  to  fund  additional                                                               
enforcement by the DPS on that  stretch of road, and though there                                                               
may not be  a correlation, there have been no  fatalities on that                                                               
stretch of road since then.   Because of environmental conditions                                                               
coupled with  driver behavior,  it is  a stretch  of road  that a                                                               
driver must  pay particular attention  to while traveling  on it,                                                               
and education  efforts have increased people's  awareness of that                                                               
fact.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MACKINNON shared  that  in 2005,  State  troopers wrote  722                                                               
citations  for  the  entire Seward  Highway,  from  Anchorage  to                                                               
Seward;  this year,  for the  Girdwood  "detachment" alone,  from                                                               
mid-January  through  mid-March,  the State  troopers  wrote  730                                                               
citations,  thus illustrating  that increased  enforcement works.                                                               
He  said that  the aforementioned  traffic safety  corridors will                                                               
have  signage at  both ends  and  intermittently throughout,  and                                                               
that the  proposed double fines  will help pay for  the increased                                                               
enforcement  because 50  percent of  those double  fines will  be                                                               
returned to  the DOT&PF, which  in turn will provide  those funds                                                               
to the DPS or any other  law enforcement agency that assists with                                                               
enforcement.    In  other  words,  once  initially  funded,  this                                                               
[program] will continue to pay for itself.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MACKINNON  offered  his  recollection  that  speeding  fines                                                               
ranged between  $75 and  $100, and  surmised that  doubling those                                                               
fines will result  in a lot of  money.  He went on  to relay that                                                               
the DOT&PF  has already identified  a number of areas,  mostly in                                                               
the  central  region of  the  state,  that  would qualify  for  a                                                               
highway traffic safety  corridor, such as the  Parks Highway from                                                               
Wasilla to Big Lake, and Knik-Goose Bay Road.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON, in  response to a question,  acknowledged that the                                                               
department   has  not   yet  done   an  analysis   of  roads   in                                                               
Representative Coghill's district, adding  that his sense is that                                                               
the  traffic volumes  are not  high enough,  though perhaps  some                                                               
small  pieces of  road  in  that area  would  qualify as  highway                                                               
traffic safety  corridors.  He  explained that the  department is                                                               
not focusing  on urban highways, where  intersections can trigger                                                               
accidents, but is instead focusing  on rural roads because that's                                                               
where driver behavior is the  main cause of accidents.  Referring                                                               
to one of  the charts, he noted that when  the DOT&PF provided it                                                               
to the  Division of  Alaska State  Troopers, the  troopers became                                                               
aware of  where they needed  to focus their  enforcement efforts,                                                               
and that a  "blue box" indicates an accident where  it was proven                                                               
that drug  or alcohol played a  part in the accident,  and that a                                                               
"yellow box" indicates  an accident where it was  not proven that                                                               
drug or alcohol played a part.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON,  in response  to questions,  indicated that  he is                                                               
anticipating  that one  of the  highway traffic  safety corridors                                                               
will be  located along the  Seward Highway between  Anchorage and                                                               
Girdwood, and  that the  proposed additional  fines will  pay for                                                               
enforcement  efforts rather  than for  educating the  public that                                                               
the fines will be double in those designated areas.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked  Mr. MacKinnon to look  favorably on an                                                               
amendment  he is  considering that  would substantially  increase                                                               
the fines - by more than  just double - in highway traffic safety                                                               
corridors  for  those  drivers   that  pass  vehicles  when  they                                                               
shouldn't, such as passing when  there is a solid [double] yellow                                                               
line.   "That  is not  just a  simple traffic  violation at  that                                                               
point," he remarked,  "that is something that  is killing people,                                                               
and we know it."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON  offered his understanding  that the  fine schedule                                                               
for that behavior  is established via regulation  by the Division                                                               
of Motor  Vehicles (DMV), and so  the DOT&PF would be  willing to                                                               
cooperate with  the DMV  to see  if they would  be able  to raise                                                               
that type of fine.  In response  to a question, he said he is not                                                               
sure what the  current fine is for crossing a  double yellow line                                                               
in order to pass another vehicle.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:38:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JAMES  A. HELGOE,  Lieutenant, Legislative  Liaison, Division  of                                                               
Alaska  State  Troopers,  Department   of  Public  Safety  (DPS),                                                               
relayed that  under 13 AAC  02.075(b), the fine for  driving left                                                               
of center in a  no passing zone is $150 plus 2  points.  He asked                                                               
that members keep  in mind that if one is  driving left of center                                                               
in  a no  passing zone  and another  person has  to take  evasive                                                               
action,  one could  be charged  with either  reckless driving  or                                                               
negligent  driving, both  of which  carry a  substantially higher                                                               
penalty.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON, in response to  a question, surmised that doubling                                                               
the current fine for driving left  of center in a no passing zone                                                               
would result  in a fine of  $300, though he, too,  commented that                                                               
if the  driver was doing so  in an erratic manner,  it would most                                                               
likely result in a reckless driving or negligent driving charge.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA suggested  that  singling  out the  driving-                                                               
left-of-center-in-a-no-passing-zone concept by  tripling the fine                                                               
for  that  conduct  would  allow  the DOT&PF  to  make  a  public                                                               
education point.   His preference,  he remarked is for  people to                                                               
know  that that  conduct is  unacceptable, especially  in highway                                                               
traffic safety corridors.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE, after  ascertaining that  no one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on SB 261.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG,  noting that  Title 11  contains crimes                                                               
involving vehicles,  asked whether they  ought to have  Section 3                                                               
apply  to violations  of Title  11 as  well as  to violations  of                                                               
Title 28.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:44:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PETER PUTZIER, Senior  Assistant Attorney General, Transportation                                                               
Section, Civil  Division (Juneau), Department of  Law (DOL), said                                                               
that  the  question  of  whether  to double  the  fines  for  the                                                               
vehicular crimes listed  under Title 11 is simply  a policy call.                                                               
He pointed out, though, that  for certain felony crimes, it could                                                               
result,  for example,  in doubling  [what is  already] a  $50,000                                                               
fine.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked whether the DOT&PF  would like to                                                               
assess  more  points  for  violations  occurring  within  highway                                                               
traffic safety corridors.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON  said that  the department spoke  with the  DMV and                                                               
discovered that doing so would  raise a due process issue because                                                               
a person  can't be assessed so  many points for a  single offense                                                               
that he/she  loses his/her driver's  license.  Currently,  when a                                                               
person  is close  to  losing his/her  license  because of  points                                                               
being assessed, the DMV is required  to go through the process of                                                               
notifying that  person; therefore,  the DMV  strongly recommended                                                               
against  doubling   the  points   that  could  be   assessed  for                                                               
violations that occur within highway traffic safety corridors.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  opined that it  would be in order  to assess                                                               
an additional  2 points and  quadruple the fine for  driving left                                                               
of center in  a no passing zone located within  a highway traffic                                                               
safety corridor.   He said he  would like to offer  both of those                                                               
changes as  a single amendment.   [Although no formal  motion was                                                               
made, this was treated as Amendment 1.]                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL   expressed  some  discomfort   with  the                                                               
concept of even  doubling the fines, and offered  his belief that                                                               
the lack of adequate signage and  adequate "pull offs" is as much                                                               
a factor as  bad driving habits.   He said he might  agree to the                                                               
concept  of doubling  the fines  if  the DOT&PF  were to  improve                                                               
signage and increase the number of "pull offs."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  pointed out that  page 2, lines  4-5, says                                                               
in part, "A  claim for damages may not be  made against the state                                                               
or  its officers,  employees, or  agents for  an act  or omission                                                               
relating to the designation of  and erection of signs regarding a                                                               
traffic safety corridor."                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG opined  that  the  bill should  include                                                               
signage requirements; putting  up more signs will  result in only                                                               
a minimal expense  and could prevent infractions.   He asked what                                                               
the current signage requirement is.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MACKINNON  relayed  that  the  department  is  amending  the                                                               
"Alaska Traffic  Manual", which stipulates  signage requirements,                                                               
such that signage  notifying the public of the  double fines will                                                               
be  required at  the beginning  and end  of each  highway traffic                                                               
safety corridor,  at any  intersecting road,  and on  every speed                                                               
limit sign within a highway traffic safety corridor.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:50:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he  wants to insert  a requirement                                                               
that there be speed limit  sign announcing the double fines every                                                               
three miles in addition to any other signage already required.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
KURTIS  J.  SMITH, P.E.,  Statewide  Traffic  & Safety  Engineer,                                                               
Design   &  Construction   Standards,   Division   of  Design   &                                                               
Engineering  Services,  Department  of  Transportation  &  Public                                                               
Facilities (DOT&PF), relayed that  the "Alaska Traffic Manual" is                                                               
being modified to require a speed  limit sign every five miles in                                                               
a highway traffic safety corridor.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  opined that  having a speed  limit sign                                                               
every three miles  in a highway traffic safety  corridor would be                                                               
more  appropriate.   He said  he would  also like  to double  the                                                               
fines for vehicles  going too slowly, because he  feels that that                                                               
is a very dangerous practice.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON  said that those  concepts would be  best addressed                                                               
via  the "Alaska  Traffic Manual"  - which  can be  adjusted very                                                               
quickly - or  via regulation, adding that the goal  is to promote                                                               
highway safety  and target high-risk  drivers.  He gave  his word                                                               
that he would see that the  "Alaska Traffic Manual" is altered to                                                               
require signage every three miles.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  indicated that he would  write a letter                                                               
of intent,  which would follow  the bill, that the  committee can                                                               
review at its next hearing.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:54:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA made a motion  to adopt Amendment 2, to alter                                                               
the bill such  that an additional 2 points shall  be assessed for                                                               
driving left  of center  in a  no passing  zone located  within a                                                               
highway  traffic  safety corridor.    There  being no  objection,                                                               
Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  referred to  the aforementioned  language on                                                               
page 2, lines 4-5, and asked why that language was included.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. PUTZIER said  that the department is required  to erect signs                                                               
designating  highway traffic  safety corridors,  and the  concern                                                               
was that someone could argue  that an accident or injury occurred                                                               
simply because the  department failed to erect  such signage; the                                                               
DOT&PF is trying  to implement additional safety  measures and is                                                               
trying  to alert  people, but  does not  want to  have to  defend                                                               
itself in litigation.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KOTT  asked whether  the  DOT&PF  should also  be                                                               
required to post signage designating highway work zones.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACKINNON  relayed that that  issue had been discussed  but a                                                               
corresponding clause was not included  because the department did                                                               
not want to complicate the bill.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:57:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KOTT  made   a   motion   to  adopt   Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 3, to  include highway  work zones  in the  language on                                                               
page  2,  lines  4-5.    There  being  no  objection,  Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 3 was adopted.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG observed  that  Conceptual Amendment  3                                                               
will  require a  title  change,  as well  as  a House  concurrent                                                               
resolution (HCR) to that effect.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:58:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE  made a  motion to adopt  Amendment 4,  to [conform                                                               
the title with regard to Conceptual  Amendment 3] and to adopt an                                                               
HCR addressing the title change.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  observed  that   Amendment  4  should  also                                                               
conform the title with regard to Amendment 2.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE,  after ascertaining that there  were no objections                                                               
to  Amendment  4, announced  that  Amendment  4, along  with  the                                                               
accompanying forthcoming title change HCR, was adopted.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA referred  to language  on page  2, line  7 -                                                               
which says in  part, "The legislature may  appropriate 50 percent                                                               
of the  fines ..." -  pointed out  that the legislature  can't be                                                               
told how  to appropriate funds,  and characterized  this language                                                               
as  unenforceable because  it  violates  the prohibition  against                                                               
dedicated funds and attempts to bind a future legislature.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE  agreed,  but  surmised  that  that  language  was                                                               
probably meant to be merely an expression of intent.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:59:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  moved to report  CSSB 261(FIN),  as amended,                                                               
out   of   committee   with   individual   recommendations,   the                                                               
accompanying fiscal notes, [and  the forthcoming House concurrent                                                               
resolution  authorizing   a  title  change].     There  being  no                                                               
objection, HCS CSSB  261(JUD) [and what later became  HCR 44] was                                                               
reported from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 3:00 p.m.                                                                 

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