Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/08/2003 02:16 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 251 An Act exempting certain foreign pleasure craft from the mandatory pilot age requirement. Co-Chair Harris MOVED to ADOPT work draft version #23- LS0865\X, Utermohle, 5/7/03, as the version of the bill before the Committee. There being NO OBJECTION, it was adopted. RANDY RUARO, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS, explained the changes made to the committee substitute. Under the bill, foreign flagged vessels would be divided into three classes of foreign flagged recreational vessels. Those under 60' long would not need a marine pilot and vessels over 60' and under 173' would have opportunity to obtain a waiver from the pilotage requirement. That would depend if the requirements determined by the Board of Marine Pilots had been meet. Foreign flagged recreational vessels over 173' would continue to need a pilot. The Board of Marine Pilots would establish the standards met. Co-Chair Harris asked how the 173' number had been determined. Mr. Ruaro replied that number would cover the top end of vessels that have come into the State over the past few years. The marine pilots wanted the number to be as low as possible and that the maximum should have been less. REPRESENTATIVE BETH KERTTULA referenced a letter in the file from Rear Admiral Underwood referencing gross tonnage. Mr. Ruaro advised that the maritime gross tonnage measurement is a volume measurement and that marine architects are good at getting around gross tonnage requirements. Representative Kerttula asked if most maritime laws dealt in gross tonnage. Mr. Ruaro acknowledged that this is a different approach; however, the standard regulation lists in gross tonnage. REX SHATTUCK, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE NANCY DAHLSTROM, explained that internationally, the standard is read in meters and since Alaska does not use meters, feet have been added. Representative Stoltze suggested that the marine pilots would know best how to navigate the fragile waters of Southeast. He imagined that there are safety concerns with the legislation. Mr. Ruaro interjected that in setting the standard, a waiver or exemption applicants would have to meet the Board of Marine Pilots reserve. Co-Chair Harris agreed that this has been an on-going process and that he would not want to do anything to jeopardize the safety of people on board. The marine pilots are an important service to the operation of marine vessels in Alaska, especially for the larger vessels. He pointed out that the legislation does provide for a size waiver. Competent people will pilot the vessels if the Marine Pilot Board is not satisfied that a ship of a certain size coming into Alaska waters is safely piloted. There will be financial benefit to the State. The State is attempting to reach a compromise with the companies that bring the large yachts to Alaska and these people are not poor. Mr. Shattuck pointed out the section of the bill that imposes a civil fine for violations in not using a pilot. KATE TESAR, LOBBYIST, ALASKA YACHT SERVICES & PROVISIONING, voiced her appreciation to the Chairman and his staff in working out a solution. The bill is a good compromise. Under Co-Chair William's direction, there is now a fee structure that will raise approximately $102 million dollars and that vessels would also a fee for exemptions. She noted the overwhelming coastal support. Representative Kerttula asked why the change from tonnage to feet. Ms. Tesar explained that there is no correlation between tonnage and footage. Part of the problem is that with yachts, it is difficult to determine how much they weigh. Using footage makes identification easier. Representative Kerttula asked if most pleasure craft would be less than 300 gross tons. Ms. Tesar did not know. They are built to varying specifications and that there is "no rule of thumb". Vice-Chair Meyer asked how the waiver would work. Ms. Tesar replied that the Department would have 30 days to receive back a response. Representative Kerttula asked if there had been input received from the marine pilots. Ms. Tesar was not comfortable responding to that question. RICK URION, DIRECTOR, OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING, DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, spoke to the problems with the proposed legislation. There are a couple of "hoops" that will be difficult for the Department to "jump through". The first concern is in regard to the listed length listed of 173'. He stated that number had been determined as a compromise that satisfied someone's personal concern and stressed that was not a good way to address public policy. The number should be based on real facts. TAPE HFC 03 - 84, Side A Mr. Urion added that the Board should have the power in making decisions regarding establishment of the criteria. The Board can respond and make those decisions. He requested that the Department be given that authority. Co-Chair Williams replied that there had been pilots involved in making these decisions. He asked if the Department had provided previous input on the consideration. Mr. Urion acknowledged that the he had known about the bill since inception but had not participated in the meetings. Co-Chair Williams reiterated that the Department had not participated. Co-Chair Williams asked what Mr. Urion wanted the Committee to do. Mr. Urion advised that he wants to make it easier for people to get licenses. Co-Chair Williams reiterated that the concern has been before the Committee since the beginning of the year. Co-Chair Harris interjected that the process has a way to go and that Mr. Urion would be able to place further departmental input down the road. Co-Chair Harris MOVED to report CS HB 251 (FIN) out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal note. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. CS HB 251 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with a "no recommendation" and with a new note by the Department of Community & Economic Development.