HJR 38: Relating to certain conveyances to the Alaska Railroad Corporation under the Alaska Railroad Transfer Act of 1982.
00 HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 38 01 Relating to certain conveyances to the Alaska Railroad Corporation under the Alaska 02 Railroad Transfer Act of 1982. 03 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 04 WHEREAS the Alaska Railroad was authorized by former 43 U.S.C. 975 et seq. 05 (Alaska Railroad Act, repealed January 5, 1985), which directly granted interests in federal 06 land for railroad rights-of-way for "the construction of railroads, telegraph and telephone 07 lines"; and 08 WHEREAS construction of the Alaska Railroad was substantially completed in 1923; 09 and 10 WHEREAS, before and after completion of the Alaska Railroad, the federal 11 government conveyed into private ownership land affected and burdened by the rights-of-way 12 under former 43 U.S.C. 161 et seq. (Homestead Act, repealed October 21, 1976) and similar 13 enactments; and 14 WHEREAS patents and other conveyance documents show a railroad right-of-way 15 reserved over that land; and 16 WHEREAS the federal government operated the Alaska Railroad from the time of
01 completion until January 14, 1983, and held as assets during that time the rights-of-way 02 reserved in land patents and other conveyance documents; and 03 WHEREAS the state acquired the Alaska Railroad from the federal government in 04 1983 and created the Alaska Railroad Corporation to oversee operations as an instrumentality 05 of the state operating under the former Department of Commerce and Economic 06 Development; and 07 WHEREAS 45 U.S.C. 1201 - 1214 (Alaska Railroad Transfer Act of 1982) provided 08 for the transfer from the federal government of "all rail properties of the Alaska Railroad to 09 the State," and 45 U.S.C. 1202(10) provided a definition of "rail properties of the Alaska 10 Railroad" to mean "all right, title, and interest of the United States" in those properties; and 11 WHEREAS, on January 14, 1983, the federal Alaska Railroad reserved and owned 12 right-of-way interests on private properties that were provided for in patents and other 13 conveyance documents; and 14 WHEREAS, if "all right, title, and interest of the United States" in the rights-of-way 15 did not include, at a minimum, an "exclusive-use easement" as defined in 45 U.S.C. 1202(6), 16 the easement could not have been included in the transfer under the plain language of the 17 Alaska Railroad Transfer Act of 1982; and 18 WHEREAS, during the transfer of rail properties under the Alaska Railroad Transfer 19 Act of 1982, the United States Department of the Interior erroneously issued, and the Alaska 20 Railroad Corporation accepted, an interim conveyance of interests in real property not owned 21 by the federal government, including "exclusive-use easements" as defined in 45 U.S.C. 22 1202(6); and 23 WHEREAS the interim or actual conveyance of any "right, title, and interest" in 24 property not held in federal ownership on January 14, 1983, is contrary to the Alaska Railroad 25 Transfer Act of 1982 and to privately held property rights recognized by common law; and 26 WHEREAS property owners of land burdened by an easement can continue to have a 27 substantial common law interest and remaining rights of use in the easement area; and 28 WHEREAS the claim or transfer of an "exclusive-use easement" over what is 29 otherwise reserved in patent and conveyance documents as a lesser property interest would 30 constitute an unauthorized taking of validly held property rights, creating enormous liability 31 for the state; and
01 WHEREAS, under AS 42.40.285, the Alaska Railroad Corporation must receive 02 legislative approval before applying for or receiving a grant of federal land within a 03 municipality, and the corporation has applied for and received transfers under the Alaska 04 Railroad Transfer Act within a municipality without the requisite legislative approval; and 05 WHEREAS the exception under AS 42.40.285(5)(C) for a conveyance of all rail 06 properties of the Alaska Railroad, as defined in 45 U.S.C 1202(10), would not apply to 07 transfers of property not conclusively owned by the federal government at the time of 08 transfer; and 09 WHEREAS the preservation of private property rights is secured by the Constitution 10 of the State of Alaska and the United States Constitution; 11 BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature believes, as it pertains to 12 privately held properties in the state that contain or are required to contain a reservation for 13 the purposes set out in the Alaska Railroad Act, all conveyances to the Alaska Railroad 14 Corporation under the Alaska Railroad Transfer Act of 1982 that purport to convey an 15 "exclusive-use easement" as defined in 45 U.S.C. 1202(6), in which associated rights, titles, 16 or interests were not conclusively owned by the federal government at the time of the transfer, 17 are contrary to law; and be it 18 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature believes that certain 19 conveyances to the Alaska Railroad Corporation under the Alaska Railroad Transfer Act of 20 1982 that were sought or obtained without the legislative approval required under 21 AS 42.40.285 are contrary to law; and be it 22 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature believes that any right, 23 title, or interest not conclusively owned by the federal government at the time of the Alaska 24 Railroad Transfer Act of 1982 that was erroneously conveyed to the Alaska Railroad 25 Corporation, and certain interests in land conveyed to the Alaska Railroad Corporation 26 without the legislative approval required under AS 42.40.285, should be disclaimed as a 27 matter of law; and be it 28 FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the Alaska 29 delegation in Congress to recognize the views of the Alaska State Legislature expressed in 30 this resolution and to take appropriate action to encourage the recognition of validly held 31 private property rights that were not conveyed under the Alaska Railroad Transfer Act of
01 1982. 02 COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to Jon Cook, Chair of the Board of Directors 03 of the Alaska Railroad Corporation; Sharon J. Walsh, Executive Administrator of the Alaska 04 Real Estate Commission; the Honorable Lisa Murkowski and the Honorable Dan Sullivan, 05 U.S. Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S. Representative, members of the Alaska 06 delegation in Congress.