Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/08/2003 02:16 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                                                                  
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                                                                  
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                                                                  
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                                                                  
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.                                                                                              

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