Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/03/1994 04:10 PM Senate L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                         March 3, 1994                                         
                           4:10 p.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Steve Rieger, Vice-Chairman                                           
 Senator Judy Salo                                                             
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 Senator Tim Kelly, Chairman                                                   
 Senator Bert Sharp                                                            
 Senator Georgianna Lincoln                                                    
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 SS FOR HOUSE SPECIAL CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 3                              
 Disapproving Executive Order No. 89.                                          
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 SSHSCR 3 - NO PREVIOUS ACTION.                                                
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Jack Slama, Secretary/Treasurer                                               
 Teamsters Local 595                                                           
 P.O. Box 102092                                                               
 Anchorage, Alaska 99510                                                       
   POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SSHSCR 3.                                     
 Helvi Sandvic, Deputy Commissioner                                            
 Department of Transportation and Public Facilities                            
 3132 Channel Drive                                                            
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-7898                                                     
   POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SSHSCR 3.                                       
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 94-18(House), SIDE A                                                     
 Number 410                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN BILL HUDSON  adjourned the House Labor and Commerce                 
 Committee meeting and reconvened the meeting as a Joint                       
 House/Senate Labor and Commerce Committee meeting at 3:35 p.m.                
 and SENATOR JUDY SALO, committee member, for the Senate Labor and             
 Commerce Committee, to the table.                                             
  CO-CHAIRMAN RIEGER  thanked REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON and pointed out            
 that Senate Labor & Commerce has had a hearing on Executive Order             
 No. 89, but not the bill before the joint committee, but with some            
 of the same testimony.  SENATOR RIEGER explained he had a prior               
 commitment and would be leaving before the end of the meeting.                
 ORDER NO. 89) and the prime sponsor, REPRESENTATIVE GAIL PHILLIPS,            
 to the joint committee.  He checked with some of those present from           
 the administration who might wish to testify.                                 
 JACK SLAMA, representing Teamsters Local 595, was asked to continue           
 his testimony.                                                                
 MR. SLAMA reiterated his request that the State be an advocate for            
 the trucking industry, not an advisary, and suggested Executive               
 Order No. 89 would be a quick fix on a proposed change.  He asked             
 the legislature not to transfer weights and measures into the                 
 Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, since he                  
 thought the present setup was a good "check and balance" system.              
  MR. SLAMA also thought there needed to be a commitment from this             
 Administration to not only fund the system, but seek advice from              
 within the industry to participate in the process.                            
 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON thanked MR. SLAMA for his testimony, and                
 called on REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS for his questions.                     
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS charged MR. SLAMA with making some strong             
 comments about their perceived treatment by the Administration, and           
 he said he hoped they don't treat him "like a dog."  He wondered              
 why MR. SLAMA didn't want to be within the department dealing with            
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS also questioned MR. SLAMA'S charge that               
 COMMISSIONER BRUCE CAMPBELL of the Department Of Transportation and           
 Commissioner PAUL FUHS of Commerce and Economic Development were              
 both on the Alaska Railroad Board of Directors.                               
 Number 465                                                                    
 MR. SLAMA didn't believe that anyone within the Administration                
 should sit on the Board of Directors of the Alaska Railroad, since            
 the railroad is a direct competitor with the trucking industry.  He           
 explained that when the DOT commissioner has the ability to set               
 axle weights and length of common length vehicles, the commissioner           
 can extend them out or can compress them, and the trucking industry           
 cannot compete with the railroad.  He declared this a conflict of             
 interest, because he assumes COMMISSIONER CAMPBELL is sitting on              
 the board looking out for the interests of the Alaska Railroad.               
 MR. SLAMA said the quote, being "treated like dogs," came from one            
 of the biggest trucking companies in the State, when the owner said           
 he was tired of being treated like a dog by the Administration.  He           
 explained he was referring to the past when trucking industry's               
 complaints, requests for assistance, additional funding for                   
 compliance, opening up longer hours in the scale houses, or for               
 more inspectors has fallen on deaf ears.                                      
 MR. SLAMA concluded by saying the trucking industry is not the most           
 polished, professional organization in the State.                             
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS agreed the railroad was competing with the            
 truckers, and he felt the government should not compete with                  
 private enterprise.                                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON thanked MR. SLAMA for his testimony and                 
 called on HELVI SANDVIC, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of            
 Transportation, to testify.                                                   
 Number 495                                                                    
 MS. SANDVIC apologized for the absence of COMMISSIONER CAMPBELL,              
 but she explained he would be available at the Anchorage office               
 around 4:p.m. by phone if he was needed for specific questions.               
 MS. SANDVIC explained she was going to focus on the reason for                
 Executive Order No. 89, but not to imply that weights and measures            
 was not being run properly by Commerce and Economic Development.              
 She said the perspective of the Department of Transportation was,             
 regardless of who is running it, improvements need to be made                 
 because the issue is the deterioration of the highway system.  She            
 said the State of Alaska is responsible for maintaining and                   
 operating the highway, with direct responsibility to the Department           
 of Transportation.                                                            
 MS. SANDVIC said, because of the responsibility, her department had           
 been working closely with Commerce and Economic Development as well           
 as the Department of Public Safety through the enforcement program,           
 which she said needed to be completed and approved by the Federal             
 Highways Administration.  She explained their process, work, and              
 review with the program, and pronounced it in pretty good shape,              
 but she thought it was important to focus on the improvement of the           
 weights and measures program.                                                 
 MS. SANDVIC said the issue is the matter of efficiency, and she               
 explained the program involved three agencies, each of which is               
 responsible for a particular element such as the permitting process           
 from the Department of Commerce for oversized vehicles.  If there             
 was a bridge involved, she said DOT would have to be involved to              
 establish stipulations, the criteria under which the permit would             
 be issued.  She thought the present method is cumbersome and could            
 be handled more efficiently in a single agency.                               
 MS. SANDVIC referenced declining budgets as a problem for Commerce            
 and Economic Development in keeping the scale houses open in a time           
 frame within the available funding.  She praised the efforts of the           
 Department of Commerce in working within these constraints, but she           
 stressed the need to catch and identify the number of vehicles that           
 are causing damage to the highways.                                           
 MS. SANDVIC then described the second part of the system which                
 involves the weight in motion system, for which the Department of             
 Transportation is responsible, and consists of imbedding equipment            
 into the pavement structure.  When the vehicles drive over the                
 equipment, it calculates the weight, size, speed, and the time the            
 vehicle strikes the equipment.  She explained data from the system            
 is used to correlate against the data being collected by the scale            
 houses in the Department of Commerce and Economic Development to              
 determine the effectiveness of the enforcement program.                       
 MS. SANDVIC said preliminary results shown by the weigh in motion             
 system is that a number of oversized vehicles are not being                   
 apprehended or identified at the fixed stations.  She explained the           
 weigh in motion system was also used by the Department of                     
 Transportation to collect data needed for pavement design and                 
 construction and could not be turned over to another agency such as           
 Public Safety or Commerce and Economic Development.                           
 Number 560                                                                    
 MS. SANDVIC described the use of the jump scales, the setting up of           
 portable scales to test on a random basis, and of a vehicle that is           
 potentially overloaded or beyond the length limits.  Citations can            
 be issued on site.  She said the program has not been as effective            
 as the collective agencies would like.  Again, she stressed the               
 need to consolidate the program to comply with the Federal Highways           
 Administration with all of the functions in the Department of                 
 MS. SANDVIC wasn't sure of the fears expressed by MR. SLAMA.  She             
 defended the Department of Transportation as being the responsible            
 agency in terms of highway deterioration, and the need to focus on            
 those driving the overload vehicles.                                          
 MS. SANDVIC explained the zero fiscal note and the transfer of                
 employees from Department of Commerce and Economic Development as             
 a cost saving.  She gave a short discussion on the possible                   
 efficiencies in restructuring the program to improve all areas.               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN questioned the divergence of data from the               
 weigh in motion program and the weigh stations.  He asked if it was           
 because the weigh stations were not opened.                                   
 Number 601                                                                    
 MS. SANDVIC said most of his reasoning was correct, and she                   
 discussed the difference in the statistics from both the weigh in             
 motion program and the weigh station.  She said the weigh station             
 was not catching all of those identified by the weigh in motion               
 procedure, and she gave several reasons for this.                             
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN wanted to know how the weigh in motion program           
 worked, and he drew from MS. SANDVIC, in a series of questions,               
 answers about the computerized system, measuring speed, determining           
 the distance between axles, and measuring the weight.  He wanted to           
 know whether DOT would be supplementing with additional personnel             
 and if more money would be expended.  MS. SANDVIC said it would               
 also include close coordination between the weigh in motion                   
 personnel with those staffing the scale house to work on problem              
 areas and problem times.                                                      
 Number 650                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked MS. SANDVIC to address the conflict of             
 interest as mentioned by MR. SLAMA.  MS. SANDVIC said she was not             
 clear on his question of conflict of interest, but she did admit              
 that both COMMISSIONER CAMPBELL and COMMISSIONER FUHS sat on the              
 Board of Directors for the Alaska Railroad.  She thought the focus            
 of COMMISSIONER CAMPBELL was very much directed to the condition of           
 the highways and his concern for the deterioration of the highways            
 in relation to oversized vehicles.                                            
 At this point SENATOR STEVE RIEGER left the meeting for another, as           
 did the records clerk.  SENATOR SALO remained in the committee.               

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