Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/23/1997 01:10 PM House TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE April 23, 1997 1:10 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Bill Williams, Chairman Representative Beverly Masek, Vice Chairman Representative John Cowdery Representative Bill Hudson Representative Jerry Sanders Representative Kim Elton Representative Al Kookesh MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR *HOUSE BILL NO. 246 "An Act naming the George W. Palmer Memorial Bridge." - MOVED HB 246 OUT OF COMMITTEE *HOUSE BILL NO. 222 "An Act relating to abandoned, wrecked, or junk vehicles." -MOVED CSHB 222(TRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE *HOUSE BILL NO. 175 "An Act relating to issuance of motor vehicle registrations and titles, and to licenses and permits to operate a motor vehicle." -HEARD AND HELD (* First public hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 246 SHORT TITLE: GEORGE W. PALMER MEMORIAL BRIDGE SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) OGAN, Kohring JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 04/10/97 1061 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 04/10/97 1061 (H) TRANSPORTATION 04/23/97 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 BILL: HB 222 SHORT TITLE: ABANDONED,WRECKED,OR JUNK VEHICLES SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) ROKEBERG JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 04/01/97 900 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 04/01/97 900 (H) TRANSPORTATION, L&C 04/23/97 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 BILL: HB 175 SHORT TITLE: PRIVATE MOTOR VEHICLE LICENSING/TESTING SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) VEZEY JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 03/06/97 557 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 03/06/97 557 (H) TRANSPORTATION, JUDICIARY 04/23/97 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 WITNESS REGISTER SANDRA YOCOM, Researcher to Representative Scott Ogan Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 128 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-3878 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided sponsor testimony on HB 246. BARBARA LACHER, Mayor City of Matanuska 350 East Dahlia Avenue Palmer, Alaska 99645 Telephone: (907) 745-4801 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in favor of 246. JUSTIN KAUCIC HC01 Box 6031 Palmer, Alaska 99645 Telephone: (907) 745-2554 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in favor of HB 246. CHUCK KAUCIC HC01 Box 6031 Palmer, Alaska 99645 Telephone: (907) 745-2554 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in favor of HB 246. REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 24 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-4954 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided sponsor testimony on HB 222. JUANITA HENSLEY, Chief Driver Services Division of Motor Vehicles P.O. Box 20020 Juneau, Alaska 99811 Telephone: (907) 465-4361 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 222 and HB 175. DAN LOWDEN, Lieutenant Alaska State Troopers 5700 East Tudor Road Anchorage, Alaska 99507 Telephone: (907) 269-5912 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 222. EVERETT MABRY, Manager Street Maintenance Municipality of Anchorage 3500 East Tudor Road Anchorage, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 343-8249 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in favor of HB 222. SHEILA LOWELL Alaska Tow Truck Association 220 East International Road Anchorage, Alaska 99518 Telephone: (907) 344-5540 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 222. STEVE SCHWEPPEE, Attorney City of Ketchikan 334 Front Street Ketchikan, Alaska 99901 Telephone: (907) 228-5611 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 222. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 97-23, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN BILL WILLIAMS called the House Transportation Standing Committee to order at 1:10 p.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Williams, Masek, Cowdery and Hudson. Representative Elton arrived at 1:12 p.m., Representative Sanders arrived at 1:15 p.m. and Representative Kookesh arrived at 1:22. HB 246 - GEORGE W. PALMER MEMORIAL BRIDGE Number 056 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS announced that the committee would hear HB 246, "An Act naming the George W. Palmer Memorial Bridge." Number 104 SANDRA YOCOM, Researcher to Representative Scott Ogan, stated that there is a new bridge construction occurring across the Matanuska River, outside of Palmer. Justin Kaucic, with Boy Scott Troop 325, of Palmer is spearheading the effort to name the bridge the George W. Palmer Memorial Bridge. She stated that the city of Palmer and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough are in favor of this naming of the bridge. She stated that George W. Palmer arrived in Alaska in 1875, operating a trading post on the Matanuska River Bridge. She stated that he used tin-lined boxes to protect the supplies from bugs and weather along the river. He is remembered as a resourceful and industrious Alaskan pioneer. He died in 1935 and in 1951 when the city incorporated, it chose the name of Palmer to reflect his independence and industriousness. The Matanuska- Susitna Valley government and residents seek to extend this remembrance to include the new bridge being built near his old trading post site. Number 348 BARBARA LACHER, Mayor, City of Matanuska, testified via teleconference from Palmer, that the Matanuska Borough is unanimously in support of naming the bridge, the George W. Palmer Memorial Bridge. Number 495 JUSTIN KAUCIC, testified via teleconference from Matsu, that the George W. Palmer Memorial Bridge is a very good name for this bridge. CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked how old he is and how he came up with the name. MR. KAUCIC replied that he is eleven years old and he came up with the name because George W. Palmer operated the trading post where the bridge site is. Number 542 REPRESENTATIVE BEVERLY MASEK thanked Mr. Kaucic for all his effort and involvement. REPRESENTATIVE BILL HUDSON thanked Mr. Kaucic and stated that he appreciated young people taking on civic responsibilities. Number 644 CHUCK KAUCIC, testified via teleconferce from Matsu, that this is a wonderful opportunity to interpret Alaskan history. Number 728 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK made a motion to move HB 246, with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal note. Number 761 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked if there were any objections, hearing none HB 246 was moved out of the House Transportation Standing Committee. HB 222 - ABANDONED,WRECKED,OR JUNK VEHICLES Number 783 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS announced the next order of business to be HB 222, "An Act relating to abandoned, wrecked, or junk vehicles", and asked Representative Rokeberg, sponsor, to present the bill. REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG stated that the HB 222 would give local governments more tools to work with when impounding and disposing of wrecked or junk vehicles. The number of vehicles abandoned on the streets is a problem for local governments. He stated that these vehicles, besides being an eyesore, are a public safety and health hazard to the citizens of the state of Alaska. Usually these vehicles are not properly registered and tracing the owners can be difficult. He stated that it is very expensive for the government to remove these junk cars. The municipality of Anchorage has to recover over 1,000 vehicles, costing about $126,000. He continues that the bill provides for an expedited removal of junk vehicles from the streets and right-of-ways. The bill will reduce the holding time and decrease the processing time for junk vehicles, as well as reduce the number of junk vehicles which are sold through auction and often re-deposited on the streets and right-of-ways. He distributed a letter from the Alaska Municiple League in support of this legislation. He stated that recommendations have been made by the city attorney in Ketchikan which generated amendments for the committees consideration. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated that Amendment 1 adds Section 6 to the bill which would allow local municipalities to generate their own ordinance for the disposal of the junk vehicles, removing requirements under existing state statutes, specifically AS 28.05.131. Which would remove the certified mailing notification which is a detriment to an expeditious removal of these vehicles that are a threat to public safety. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated that Amendment 2 addressed the situation of "street mechanics" working on a car using the public right-of-way for a mechanic shop. He stated that at night they push the vehicle a couple of feet to avoid the police enforcement. Therefore, the words "reasonably appears to have" is added to over come that situation. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated that Amendment 3 deletes "registered and" on page 3, line 12. He stated that by requiring cars to be registered and titled for public auction, would impede their ability to sell. Number 1288 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON referred to Amendment 2, page 2, line 5 and stated that following the word vehicle, the word "that" needs to be inserted so it will read correctly. Number 1352 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated that he had no objection. Number 1376 JUANITA HENSLEY, Chief, Driver Services, Division of Motor Vehicles, wanted to make sure that the Amendment 3 did not conflict with the sale of the motor vehicles because the new owner could be required to bring the vehicle up to emissions standards before they could get the vehicle registered. Number 1396 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated that a person purchasing a vehicle from an auction would have to register the car and pass the emissions test. Number 1416 MS. HENSLEY stated that before a vehicle could be registered in Anchorage and Fairbanks they have to meet the emission testing standards. She wondered if this is going to put the burden back on the person buying the vehicle to maybe make repairs before that vehicle can be registered. She stated that she doesn't have a problem with it but wanted to point it out to the committee. She asked if Representative Rokeberg had a chance to discuss this with the Department of Environmental Conservation. Number 1491 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated that it has not been discussed with the department and the test is required before the vehicle can be registered. Number 1523 REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS asked if there is a mechanism to tell the buyer so they are aware before they purchase the vehicle that it needs to have an emissions test. He wondered how this would affect young people who thought they were getting a good deal only to find out that it will cost an extra $1200 to get the vehicle operable. Number 1556 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated that he did not know, it might require an additional review that could be taken up in the next committee of referral. Number 1583 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS felt that this should be addressed before the amendment is adopted. He stated that he is not necessarily against it but it is a question. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated that he would address it in the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee. Number 1597 REPRESENTATIVE JOHN COWDERY stated that there are no guarantees when buying a vehicle from an auction. Number 1623 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS stated that currently public auctions are not allowed to sell a car that is not registered. Number 1635 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY stated that a lot of the time these vehicles are bought for parts. Number 1647 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON stated that is a policy question of either having it be the municipalities responsibility to deal with the emissions standards test and registration or it being the buyers responsibility. He stated that municipality has already put funds into removing the vehicles off the streets and basically it would be the buyer beware. He stated the question is whether the municipalities are taken off the hook by adopting the amendment. Number 1706 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY stated that usually the cars that are picked up do not have engines in them, they are usually stripped out and pushed into the street for disposal. Number 1623 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS stated that he would not have a problem with taking this burden off of the municipality and putting it on to the purchaser, his argument is to make sure that the purchaser is made aware of this before the vehicle, that it is not registered, is purchased. Especially since it has been a law that the vehicles had to be registered and titled, otherwise some people are going to be hurt financially. Number 1760 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated that Amendment 3 was at the recommendation of the towing companies and auctioneers, not the municipality. He stated that they have not had a chance to look into it but it does make sense at this early stage. Number 1810 DAN LOWDEN, Lieutenant, Alaska State Troopers, testified via teleconference from Anchorage, that the bill does have some very positive aspects that will assist him in removing the vehicles. Number 1846 EVERETT MABRY, Manager, Street Maintenance, Municipality of Anchorage, testified via teleconference from Anchorage, that the municipality strongly supports the bill. He stated that it will allow the junk cars to be cleaned off the streets and be disposed of more efficiently. Number 1897 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked Mr. Mabry to explain the problem with the abandoned cars in the winter time. Number 1908 MR. MABRY stated that abandoned cars in the winter time present tremendous problems when trying to plow the streets. He stated that it is not uncommon to run in the vehicles because they are disguised by the heavy snow coverage. Number 1953 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked what is done with the expense of removing the junk vehicles and if the expense is assessed to the owners. Number 1974 MR. MABRY replied that if they can locate the owners they will be assessed, but they have a difficult time in determining the ownership of the vehicle. Number 1991 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS asked how the municipality's clean sweep program is progressing and what effect this bill would have on it. Number 2047 MR. MABRY replied that the program is also for junk vehicles on private property not just on public right-of-way. It does help to identify many junk vehicles and expedites their removal. He stated that this bill would not really effect the program. It allows the municipality to get the cars off of the streets quicker. SHEILA LOWELL, Alaska Tow Truck Association, testified via teleconference from Anchorage, that the association thinks this bill will make it easier to dispose of the vehicles. She stated that the towing industry sells the cars to recover the cost since they do not receive federal funding. She stated that they would like the registration requirement to be deleted. Number 2105 STEVE SCHWEPPEE, Attorney, City of Ketchikan, testified via teleconference from Ketchikan, that Amendment 1 would change the notice requirements for abandoned vehicles. He stated that the statutory procedure stated that the owner had to be notified by certified mail, which can take up to a month. He stated that they would like to have the flexibility to establish their own procedures. Number 2225 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked Mr. Schweppee to address Amendment 2 regarding the reasonableness of the removals. Number 2213 MR. SCHWEPPEE replied that there are a lot of side walk mechanics in Ketchikan and as a result, the ordinance on abandoned vehicles has been amended to read, that a vehicle is abandoned if it reasonably appears to have been unattended for 48 hours. Number 2352 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON stated that he is confused with Amendment 2 and feels that it just redefines the standard for the word "has" and he does not see how it addresses the in excess of 48 hours problem. MR. SCHWEPPEE stated that by stating it reasonably appears to have been left unattended, would address the problem of someone pushing the vehicle two feet to claim that they have moved it. REPRESENTATIVE ELTON stated that the problem is the 48 hour requirement and the language of "left unattended, standing or parked." If the definition of standing is that it can't be moved two feet then it would not need to be changed to "reasonable appears to have been". Number 2384 MR. SCHWEPPEE stated that he has had cases where a person testifies that they pushed the car every 48 hours a foot or so. He stated that they have changed their ordinance to read reasonable appears to have been left unattended, standing or parked." He stated that even though the vehicle had been moved a foot or two, it was still reasonably abandoned. The word reasonably adds some flexibility. Number 2446 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON stated that the amendment does give the judgement to the officers and those who are dealing with the vehicle. Number 2469 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS stated that the committee has not formerly accepted the amendments for discussion purposes. TAPE 97-23, SIDE B Number 008 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON moved Amendment 1, 2 and 3, for adoption. Number 063 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked if there were any objections, hearing none it was so ordered. Number 075 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON moved to adopt his amendment to insert on line 10 the word "that" to Amendment 2. Number 089 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked if there was an objection, hearing none it was so ordered. Number 094 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON make a motion to move CSHB 222(TRA) as amended, with individual recommendations, zero fiscal note and asked unanimous consent. Number 102 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked if there were any objections, hearing none, CSHB 222(TRA) was moved out of the House Transportation Committee. HB 175 - PRIVATE MOTOR VEHICLE LICENSING/TESTING Number 118 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS announced the committee would take up HB 175, "An Act relating to issuance of motor vehicle registrations and titles, and to licenses and permits to operate a motor vehicle." Number 170 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS called for a brief at ease at 2:00 p.m. Number 170 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS called the meeting back to order at 2:04 p.m. Number 175 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY stated this bill would be a move towards the privatizing of motor vehicle services. He had been to a symposium by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, on the subject of privatization and passed out their survey. He stated that the majority of states are moving towards the direction of privatization although there are different degrees to the level of privatization. He stated that most jurisdictions agree that the most difficult part to implementing a privatization program was the resistance from the state employees. He stated that the consensus of experience seems to be that out- sourcing was successfully implemented when the jobs of the public employees were reasonably addressed, in that they did not lose their jobs. New Jersey had the greatest problems in that toll collectors were making $65,000 a year. He stated that Alberta and Arizona found employment for all its employees after the privatization. He stated that Massachusetts is moving towards out- sourcing, the lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles are so bad that an industry of professional line men have formed, to wait in line. Number 381 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY stated that there is a technical amendment which is to change the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Administration. He stated that the administration has full authority within the confines of existing contracts to out-source the Department of Motor Vehicle services. He stated that car dealers are excited about this prospect, however, their employees are virtually unilaterally opposed to it. He stated that the employees see this as more work without additional pay. He stated that this really isn't the case. The incentive for this is coming from the top and not from the employees of the car dealers. He stated that there is a natural resistance from the public employees as they feel threatened that they are going to lose their jobs, and it is the role of the legislature to allay those concerns. Number 528 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked if the same amount of revenue that goes to the state or to the Department of Motor Vehicles will go to privatization. Number 539 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied the Department of Motor Vehicles would not have as many expenses in collecting it but the fees are identical, there are no cuts taken by the vendor. He stated that this varies across the states, most do not structure how much their vendors can charge for services. He stated that the charges range from a five dollar charge to a forty dollar charge. Number 573 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked if this would allow more remote areas to receive more service. Number 586 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied that the jurisdiction that has lead the country in this area is Saskatchewan, which is a big providence with a small population that has not been able to provide this service with government officers. He stated that they have 226 vendors who provide this service. Number 607 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked if it would diminish the quality of the driver's license test. Number 617 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied that no standards would change and the Department of Motor Vehicles would maintain a quality assurance responsibility. Number 628 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked if anyone could get a free notary service as most state offices offer a free notary service. Number 667 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied that many vendors will do this as a customer service and some will do it as a business for a profit. He stated that most have a set fee that vendors can charge, however some of the bigger programs don't regulate it at all. Number 686 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON stated that he does not understand why there needs to be the contract language with the third party vendor involved. He stated that the state can sometimes be defined as a single entity but having the contract in law assumes the need of every person who wants to be a third party vendor is exactly the same. He felt that this assumption should not be made. Number 723 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied that this does not have to be done, but the administration is not taking the lead so as a legislative body we are pushing the administrative branch of government to do business in a different way. He stated that the contract does have flexibility although it is more rigid than the Department of Motor Vehicles would like. He stated that it is an equitable contract that grants rights to the vendors and to the Department of Motor Vehicles. He stated that the Department of Motor Vehicles insisted that the legislature narrow the department's authority to terminate a contract with the vendor. Number 770 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON stated that the provision of the contract provides that either party can get out of the contract with a 60- day notice to the other. He asked what happens if a third party vender wants to negotiate a 45-day notice, then the legislation would have to be amended. Number 792 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied that whenever two parties agree mutually they can do as they chose. Number 810 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK asked why the amendment is being changed from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Administration. Number 830 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied that Executive Order 98 went into effect in April. Number 857 MS. HENSLEY stated that the department has had third party contractors for 60 years. She stated that there are 13 commissioned agents in various locations, they are paid on a transaction based commission. She stated that the program has been expanded to where the state does not have to pay some of the contracted third party contractors, such as the tour bus and school bus contractors. She stated that there are two car dealers that have come on line with the department to do their own titling. She stated that these are simple transactions that have been out- sourced. She stated that in Fairbanks and Anchorage, the Department has offered the emission testing stations to be contracted out to do registration renewal. This does not cost the department anything as the third party is required to pay the up front cost. Last year 81,000 renewal registrations where processed this way. The department is looking at having the simple transactions out-sourced. The department is currently giving the public both options of vendors and the department. Number 1235 MS. HENSLEY stated that the division would like more control because of the audit functions but at the same time do not want a rigid contract in statute and need the flexibility to take an agreement back at any time, in the case of violations. She stated that the department feels they have that. She stated that she is the chair of the International Working Group to study this privatization and referred to the results of the survey. She thought the division needs to work with the legislature more on this bill. Number 1240 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked what is the largest use of the department by the public. Number 1252 MS. HENSLEY replied that 63 percent of the public participates in the mail registration program. She stated that the title transactions and the issuance of drivers' licenses require the public to come into the office. Number 1383 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked if a third party contractor is in violation the department would not be able to cancel the contract unless given the 60 day notice. Number 1413 MS. HENSLEY replied that there is a provision in the statute that the department could take action and there would be a due process period. She stated that the third party would remit the fees to the state every 30-days whereas, the department makes deposits on a daily basis. Number 1468 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON stated that it is his understanding that Alaska can privatize at any time and the department does not need this bill to accomplish this. MS. HENSLEY replied that is correct. Number 1508 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked if his understanding was correct that the private contracts that are in existence have not reduced the number of employees employed by the department. Number 1535 MS. HENSLEY replied that the department has not reduced the number of employees as a result of the third party contracts. She stated that the division can not handle the work load as it is. She stated that people are paying for services that the Department of Motor Vehicles is not allowed to give them. She stated that they bring in $37 million dollars but their budget is $8.1 million. Number 1615 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY made a motion to accept Amendment 1. Number 1621 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked if there was an objection, hearing none it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS stated that it was his intention to put this bill into a subcommittee with Representative Cowdery as chair, with Representative Hudson and Representative Elton. He asked Representative Cowdery to keep his office informed as to when the meeting is held. ADJOURNMENT Number 1663 CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS adjourned the House Transportation Standing Committee at 2:35 p.m.