Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

04/12/2018 08:00 AM House COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 333(CRA) Out of Committee
Moved HB 410 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        HB 333-MUNI: BAN DRIVER PHONE USE IN SCHOOL ZONE                                                                    
8:08:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  announced that  the  final order  of  business                                                              
would be  HOUSE BILL NO. 333,  "An Act authorizing  a municipality                                                              
to adopt an  ordinance prohibiting the use of  cellular telephones                                                              
while driving in school zones or on school property."                                                                           
8:09:19 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHRIS BIRCH,  Alaska State  Legislature, as  prime                                                              
sponsor,  presented HB  333.   He  said  the proposed  legislation                                                              
would  allow local  control over  traffic  ordinances relating  to                                                              
school  zones.    He  said  the  idea  for  HB  333  came  from  a                                                              
constituent  who  volunteers  as  a  crossing  guard  in  a  south                                                              
Anchorage school  district and  routinely has witnessed  dangerous                                                              
situations  involving   children  near  schools.     He  indicated                                                              
involvement in  this issue for many  years, starting at  the local                                                              
level.  He asked the committee to support the proposed bill.                                                                    
8:11:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  remarked that children walking  to school                                                              
seem "oblivious to traffic."                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH said municipalities  could make  assessments                                                              
[as  to the  type  of ordinance  needed].   He  noted  there is  a                                                              
distinction between driving and operating a motor vehicle.                                                                      
8:12:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR PARISH expressed support for HB 333.                                                                                   
8:12:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  asked about  the  feasibility  of smaller  hub                                                              
communities opting in.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH responded  that the  legislature is  sitting                                                              
as  the assembly  for unorganized  boroughs.   He  said Bethel  is                                                              
considered a  municipality; therefore, under  HB 333, the  City of                                                              
Bethel could opt in.                                                                                                            
8:13:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO stated, "Out  in the unorganized  borough                                                              
we don't  necessarily have the  municipal government to  do that."                                                              
He  said his  hometown  is  Healy, Alaska.    He remarked  on  the                                                              
increased  traffic  there  is  in bigger  cities.    He  expressed                                                              
appreciation for  HB 333 and the  ability of local  governments to                                                              
have control.                                                                                                                   
8:15:05 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  listed the  following supporters of  HB 333:                                                              
statewide  school  boards,  the  Anchorage  School  District,  the                                                              
American Automobile  Association (AAA),  and the Alaska  Municipal                                                              
League (AML).                                                                                                                   
8:15:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  referred to  the  mention of  electronic                                                              
devices  in HB  333 and  asked if  that  would affect  the use  of                                                              
radar equipment in law enforcement vehicles.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH  answered  that he  does  not think  HB  333                                                              
would  affect  the  ability  of  law  officers  to  perform  their                                                              
8:17:19 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR PARISH  asked Representative Birch  to put on  the record                                                              
the distinction between driving and operating a motor vehicle.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  answered that driving is a  more restrictive                                                              
term  that means  someone is  behind the  wheel.   He offered  his                                                              
understanding that  operating a vehicle could include  someone who                                                              
is drunk and  passed out in the  passenger's seat.  He  said under                                                              
HB  333,   municipalities  could   decide  on  which   term  their                                                              
ordinances would apply.                                                                                                         
CO-CHAIR PARISH  offered his understanding that if  a municipality                                                              
enacted a  broad restriction,  then a teacher  who got  in his/her                                                              
vehicle  after school  and used  a  cell phone  while running  the                                                              
motor  to  warm  up  the vehicle  could  be  in  violation  of  an                                                              
ordinance.   He speculated  that a  law enforcement officer  would                                                              
most  likely   give  the   person  the   benefit  of   the  doubt.                                                              
Notwithstanding  that, he said  he would encourage  municipalities                                                              
to use the more restrictive driving definition.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  replied, "I'm  a big believer  in reasonable                                                              
8:19:51 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   ZULKOSKY  said   the  committee   would  hear   invited                                                              
8:20:06 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  WIGHT relayed  that he  has  spent five  years working  the                                                              
intersection  of  Chinook  and Gregory,  the  entrance  to  Bowman                                                              
Elementary School.   He said the school has crowded  approaches to                                                              
traffic patterns,  and he  must pay close  attention not  only for                                                              
the safety  of the school children,  but also for his  own safety.                                                              
He  emphasized that  he favors  the  "while driving"  distinction.                                                              
He  said   he  thinks   parents,  including   himself,  need   the                                                              
opportunity  to find their  children.   He said, "Operating  might                                                              
throw a wrinkle  into that, whereas  driving should not.   All you                                                              
have to  do is park your  car in a school  zone or on the  side of                                                              
the  road and  talk to  them,  whereas driving  you  need to  pull                                                              
attention in a school zone to be safe."                                                                                         
MR. WIGHT  said he  worked hard with  principals to  get voluntary                                                              
compliance.   He said,  "We got 90-plus  percent compliance.   But                                                              
the  remaining  group just  didn't  see the  need  to  do it,  and                                                              
they're the ones  that had some of the dangerous  activities, both                                                              
by  lack of  attention  and some  by  just being  independent  and                                                              
feeling that  they can do  what they want  to despite of  the risk                                                              
presented to  people in  the school  zone."  He  said he  has seen                                                              
people  driving  over  the  curb   where  children  were  standing                                                              
because they  were talking  on their mobile  phones.   Further, he                                                              
has  seen people  run stop  signs and  has had  people almost  run                                                              
into him in the  intersection a number of times  because they were                                                              
not paying  attention.   He said  the worst  incident was  when he                                                              
had thought quickly  to avoid a child getting hit  and he ended up                                                              
getting hit from  behind.  The person  who hit him said  it was an                                                              
important phone  call.  Mr.  Wight said  he feels it  is important                                                              
for people  to take  a break [from  their phone]  for the  five or                                                              
ten  minutes they  are in  a school  zone, because  the safety  of                                                              
children is paramount.                                                                                                          
MR.  WIGHT  said he  has  worked  "with  the schools  and  through                                                              
legislative  funding"  to improve  traffic  patterns.   He  opined                                                              
that  he has  done  all  he can  without  removing  the hazard  of                                                              
distraction  while driving  through  a school  zone  or on  school                                                              
8:24:23 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR PARISH  relayed he  was a crossing  guard two  years ago,                                                              
and  it can  be  scary  with little  kids  and adults  not  paying                                                              
attention.    He offered  his  understanding  that Mr.  Wight  had                                                              
indicated his  preference for the  term "driving" a  motor vehicle                                                              
rather than "operating" one.                                                                                                    
MR.  WIGHT  answered that  is  correct.    He expressed  that  his                                                              
experience has  shown that the risk  is in [using a  device] while                                                              
driving.   He said people  need to be able  to pull over  and call                                                              
their children  from their  mobile phones;  therefore, he  opposes                                                              
the inclusion of "operating" the motor vehicle.                                                                                 
8:26:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  asked if talking on a  mobile phone while                                                              
in a car is  "illegal now" or could be "considered  illegal by the                                                              
municipality in light of this legislation."                                                                                     
8:26:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH  answered that  talking  on  a mobile  phone                                                              
while  driving currently  is legal  in  Alaska; it  is illegal  to                                                              
watch  video while  driving.    He said  HB  333 would  relate  to                                                              
school  zones and  give municipalities  the option  to "make  that                                                              
against the law in a school zone or on school property."                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER asked if  it is legal  to pull over  in a                                                              
vehicle to use a mobile phone.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  answered yes.   He added, "Depending  on the                                                              
municipal determination."                                                                                                       
8:28:19 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR PARISH moved to adopt Amendment 1, as follows:                                                                         
     On page 1, line 7:                                                                                                         
     Following "person"                                                                                                         
     Delete "operating"                                                                                                         
     Insert "driving"                                                                                                           
8:29:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY  objected for  the purpose  of discussion.   She                                                              
asked the  bill sponsor  if he had  a position  on whether  or not                                                              
the language should state "driving" or "operating".                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH answered,  "It's  just a  matter of  getting                                                              
the maximum  flexibility  to the  communities.   But based  on the                                                              
testimony  and the  discussion, yeah,  I mean,  if somebody  pulls                                                              
off to  the side of the  road and is  having a conversation  in an                                                              
operating mode, I think that would be reasonable."                                                                              
8:29:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY removed her objection.                                                                                        
8:30:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER objected for  the purpose of  discussion.                                                              
He  noted that  the bill  title  states "while  driving in  school                                                            
zones", while the  language in the body states  "operating a motor                                                            
vehicle".  He asked for an explanation.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH answered as follows:                                                                                       
     The  legal assessment  is to have,  basically, the  full                                                                   
     flexibility  for the  municipalities  that are  actually                                                                   
     going to  ultimately do that.   And so, if you  have ...                                                                   
     kind  of  a  broad  description,   ...  then  the  local                                                                   
     communities  can decide  how  constrained  they want  to                                                                   
     make that."                                                                                                                
8:30:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER removed his objection.                                                                                  
8:31:14 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease at 8:31 a.m.                                                                                 
8:31:58 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER again  objected  to Amendment  1 for  the                                                              
purpose  of discussion.    He indicated  that  he understands  the                                                              
intent of Amendment  1, but he questioned whether  it would overly                                                              
constrain the municipalities.                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY  asked, "If  we were  to provide an  opportunity                                                              
to have greater  latitude, as the bill before us  would allow, how                                                              
would municipalities,  upon opting in,  be able to  further define                                                              
that for clarity?"                                                                                                              
8:33:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE    BIRCH    stated     his    understanding    that                                                              
municipalities  have the  latitude to construct  a description  as                                                              
broad  or narrow  as they choose.   He  indicated  that he has  no                                                              
problem with Amendment  1; however, it would constrain  what local                                                              
governments can  do.  He said the  intent [of HB 333]  was to give                                                              
the most latitude to the local governments.                                                                                     
8:34:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR PARISH  related that a friend  had had too much  to drink                                                              
and was "sleeping  it off" on  the passenger side of  the vehicle,                                                              
which was not  running, and that was considered  operating a motor                                                              
vehicle.   He said that  does not seem  reasonable, but it  is the                                                              
way  the  law  was  interpreted.     He  said  he  does  not  like                                                              
ambiguity,   and   "operating   a  motor   vehicle"   seems   more                                                              
ambiguous."   He said it  seems reasonable  to him for  someone to                                                              
pull off  the road,  turn off  the vehicle,  and then  use his/her                                                              
mobile phone  while in  the car.   He indicated  he would  like to                                                              
"spare"  elected local  officials  "the unnecessary  ambiguity  of                                                              
'operating' versus  'driving'."  He said he thinks  "driving" gets                                                              
to "the substance of the safety issue."                                                                                         
8:36:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER removed his objection.                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY  [objected to  Amendment 1], because  the intent                                                              
[of HB  333] was  to give  as much latitude  to municipalities  to                                                              
make their own determination.                                                                                                   
8:37:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO said  that  at one  school in  Anchorage,                                                              
there is  a pass-through  lane and  a parking lane  to get  to the                                                              
gymnasium.    He  said  the  last   time  he  was  there,  several                                                              
occupants  [of vehicles]  were on  their mobile  phones, which  he                                                              
said distracted  them from watching  what was happening,  and they                                                              
would pull  out at any moment.   He said he thinks  he understands                                                              
[Co-Chair Zulkowsky's]  point and  agrees with her;  therefore, he                                                              
said  he thinks  it  is important  to ensure  that  municipalities                                                              
have the latitude "to make those decisions."                                                                                    
8:39:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER   related  that  he  would   likely  vote                                                              
against  Amendment  1  in  order  to  give  the  latitude  to  the                                                              
8:40:16 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  PARISH offered  his understanding  that the only  people                                                              
not  "captured  by this  amendment"  are  those who  are  actually                                                              
parked, because  "even if you've got  your foot on your  break you                                                              
are  still  driving  your  vehicle."   He  said  the  question  is                                                              
whether  limitation  of  mobile  phone  use will  apply  to  those                                                              
driving or those operating a vehicle.                                                                                           
8:41:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LINCOLN suggested  there  is good  reason for  the                                                              
state to  maintain uniform rules  regarding traffic  laws, because                                                              
without them, people  could inadvertently break the  law.  He said                                                              
he likes Amendment  1.  He expressed support for  Mr. Wight's work                                                              
protecting children,  but "it  does seem like  the actual  risk is                                                              
around driving while on phone."                                                                                                 
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY  asked Representative Rauscher if  he maintained                                                              
his objection.                                                                                                                  
8:42:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   RAUSCHER   said   he  thinks   he   agrees   with                                                              
Representative Lincoln.                                                                                                         
8:42:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH noted  that there was  another committee  of                                                              
referral, and  he offered to  do some additional  research between                                                              
now  and  then to  address  some  of  the concern  that  had  been                                                              
expressed.    He  reiterated  his   intent  to  give  the  maximum                                                              
flexibility to local governments.                                                                                               
8:43:01 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 8:43 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.                                                                       
8:45:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER removed  his objection  to the motion  to                                                              
adopt Amendment 1.                                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR ZULKOSKY  removed her  objection to  the motion  to adopt                                                              
Amendment  1.    There  being  no  further  objection,  Conceptual                                                              
Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                                        
8:46:15 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  opened public  testimony  on  HB 333.    After                                                              
ascertaining  that there  was no  one who wished  to testify,  she                                                              
closed public testimony.                                                                                                        
8:46:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  PARISH  moved to  report  HB  333,  as amended,  out  of                                                              
committee  with individual  recommendations  and the  accompanying                                                              
fiscal  notes.    There being  no  objection,  CSHB  333(CRA)  was                                                              
reported  out  of   the  House  Community  and   Regional  Affairs                                                              
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 410 Certificate of Compliance Additional Document 4.12.2018.pdf HCRA 4/12/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 410
HB 410 Certification Dissolution Additional Document 4.12.2018.pdf HCRA 4/12/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 410
HB 410.pdf HCRA 4/12/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 410
HB333 Additional Documents-AAA Letter 4.12.2018.pdf HCRA 4/12/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 Additional Documents-Uniform Traffic Laws Title 28 4.12.18.pdf HCRA 4/12/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 Additional Documents-February 2018 Legal Services Memo 4.12.18.pdf HCRA 4/12/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 Fiscal Note DPS-AST 4.12.18.pdf HCRA 4/12/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 Sponsor Statement 4.12.18.pdf HCRA 4/12/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 Supporting Document-ASD Resolution 2 4.12.18.pdf HCRA 4/12/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 Supporting Document-ASD Resolution 4.12.18.pdf HCRA 4/12/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 333
HB333 ver A 4.12.18.pdf HCRA 4/12/2018 8:00:00 AM
HB 333