Legislature(2003 - 2004)

2004-01-23 Senate Journal

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2004-01-23                     Senate Journal                      Page 1986
SB 275                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 275 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                                                   
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                                               
           "An Act relating to certain fees or other monetary                                       
           charges of the Department of Environmental                                               
           Conservation; relating to action against Department                                      
           of Environmental Conservation permits and other                                          
           authorizations for failure to pay a monetary charge;                                     
           and providing for an effective date."                                                    
was read the first time and referred to the Resources and Finance                                   
The following fiscal information was published today:                                               
 Fiscal Note No. 1, Department of Environmental Conservation                                        
Governor's transmittal letter dated January 22:                                                     
Dear President Therriault:                                                                          
Under the authority of article III, section 18, of the Alaska                                       
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill relating to the fee authority of the                         
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) AS 44.46.025. The                                    
bill would require a variety of persons benefiting from DEC's services                              
to contribute toward the costs of providing those services.                                         

2004-01-23                     Senate Journal                      Page 1987
This bill would expand DEC's authority to collect fees for services                                 
relating to pesticides under AS 46.03. Unlike most states, DEC does                                 
not have statutory authority to charge fees for its pesticide-related                               
services. DEC provides services such as certifying applicators, issuing                             
permits for pesticide application, and registering pesticides.                                      
Similarly, this bill would grant DEC authority to collect fees for                                  
services provided through the state seafood and food safety laboratory.                             
The seafood and food safety laboratory provides a myriad of services                                
to certain users and the general public. Such services include testing                              
crab, geoducks, and other shellfish for toxins before sale, testing local                           
dairy products before sale to schools and the military, testing food                                
products for the presence of harmful bacteria, and performing                                       
nutritional analyses.                                                                               
This bill would require non-crude oil operators to contribute towards                               
DEC's costs for reviewing, commenting upon, approving, and                                          
retaining oil discharge prevention and contingency plans and proof of                               
financial responsibility. Non-crude operators include operators of: oil                             
terminal facilities; oil barges; tank vessels; nontank vessels; and                                 
railroad tank cars that store or transport petroleum products derived                               
from crude oil. Currently, only crude oil operators contribute towards                              
DEC's costs for handling oil discharge prevention and contingency                                   
plans and proof of financial responsibility through the oil conservation                            
surcharge on crude oil production in AS 43.55.300.                                                  
Both types of operators, non-crude and crude, derive a benefit from                                 
DEC's services. They should both contribute to the cost of                                          
maintaining the State of Alaska's oil spill safety net. The fee amount                              
would be limited to recovering DEC's applicable direct costs                                        
associated with oil discharge prevention and contingency plans and                                  
proof of financial responsibility.                                                                  
This bill would also authorize DEC to include travel costs in                                       
determining the amount of a fee and to assess late fees against a                                   
person for failing to pay amounts owed DEC. The late fees would be                                  
assessed on a monthly basis until the amount due is paid. The late fees                             
would be adopted by DEC as fixed fees and may not exceed DEC's                                      
estimated average reasonable costs in collecting unpaid and late                                    
monetary charges. Under proposed AS 44.46.027, DEC would                                            

2004-01-23                     Senate Journal                      Page 1988
periodically review regulations adopted under that section, to identify                             
any changes in the average actual cost of collecting unpaid and late                                
monetary charges and, by regulation, adjust the late fees accordingly.                              
After 30 days' written notice to the person, DEC could revoke or                                    
refuse to issue, modify, amend, or renew permits, approvals, or any                                 
other DEC authorization until payment is made to the department.                                    
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                            
Sincerely yours,                                                                                    
Frank H. Murkowski