Legislature(2015 - 2016)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/05/2016 05:00 PM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time --
Moved CSHB 319(FIN) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 319                                                                                                            
     "An Act relating to registration fees for snowmobiles                                                                      
     and off-highway vehicles."                                                                                                 
5:03:36 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair   Neuman   MOVED   to  ADOPT   proposed   committee                                                                    
substitute    for   HB    319,   Work    Draft   29-LS1444\H                                                                    
(Wallace/Martin, 4/1/16).  There being NO OBJECTION,  it was                                                                    
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
JANE PIERSON, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE STEVE THOMPSON,                                                                             
explained that the only difference in the new version was a                                                                     
repealer added for July 1, 2019.                                                                                                
5:04:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CATHY TILTON, SPONSOR, HOUSE DISTRICT 12,                                                                        
explained HB 319:                                                                                                               
     Passage  of  House  Bill 319  would  increase  two-year                                                                    
     snowmobile registration fees from  $10 to $20 and allow                                                                    
     a six-year registration fee of $50.                                                                                        
     The measure  has support from  snow machine users  as a                                                                    
     way to  help the  state during cash-strapped  times and                                                                    
     back funding to develop  and maintain snowmobile trails                                                                    
     and provide safety and educational programs.                                                                               
     Current  snowmobile registration  fees  generate up  to                                                                    
     $250,000 a  year for  the Snowmobile  Trail Development                                                                    
     Program which  is managed by the  Department of Natural                                                                    
     Resources'  Division of  Parks  and Outdoor  Recreation                                                                    
     and the nine-member  Snowmobile Trails Advisory Council                                                                    
     SnowTRAC approved  a resolution last August  in support                                                                    
     of   the  provisions   of  HB   319,  saying   Alaska's                                                                    
     snowmobile  trails  program is  revenue-neutral,  self-                                                                    
     funded,  and  user-based.  The council  also  said  the                                                                    
     demands for trail  maintenance, development, and safety                                                                    
     continue  to grow  and that  support for  winter trails                                                                    
     brings    increased     business    and    recreational                                                                    
     opportunities to communities across the state.                                                                             
     HB 319 helps promote  snowmobile user safety and enjoys                                                                    
     support from  those who are  willing to pay more  for a                                                                    
     service they need and enjoy.                                                                                               
5:08:52 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Neuman wanted to clarify that no state money would                                                                     
be funding the bill.                                                                                                            
Representative Tilton responded correct.                                                                                        
Co-Chair Neuman asked when the rates were last adjusted.                                                                        
Representative Tilton responded that the rates were                                                                             
adjusted in 2008, at the program's inception.                                                                                   
Co-Chair Neuman asked whether the groups were supportive of                                                                     
the bill, because of the high cost of fuel.                                                                                     
Representative Tilton replied in the affirmative.                                                                               
Representative Gattis wondered whether the stickers were                                                                        
the same as the state park stickers.                                                                                            
Representative Tilton  replied that  the stickers  for state                                                                    
parks  were  a  separate  program. She  explained  that  the                                                                    
registration  fees on  a snow  mobile  was at  the point  of                                                                    
Representative  Gattis  wondered   whether  an  unregistered                                                                    
snowmobile would be against the law.                                                                                            
Co-Chair   Thompson  explained   that  it   was  just   like                                                                    
registering the car.                                                                                                            
Representative  Gattis felt  confused  about the  difference                                                                    
between the separate registration stickers.                                                                                     
Co-Chair  Neuman  stressed  that  a  snow  machine  must  be                                                                    
registered in  order to use  it on state land.  He explained                                                                    
that the  Department of Motor  Vehicles (DMV) would  use the                                                                    
money for that sticker for trail grooming.                                                                                      
Representative Gattis surmised that a  one must have a state                                                                    
park sticker and a registration sticker.                                                                                        
Co-Chair Neuman  shared that  a state  park sticker  was not                                                                    
required, but  a snow machine  must be registered to  use on                                                                    
state land.                                                                                                                     
Representative  Gattis placed  on record  that she  had been                                                                    
registered the entire time.                                                                                                     
5:13:27 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Guttenberg  wondered if  there was a  list of                                                                    
Representative   Tilton  replied   that   the  monies   were                                                                    
delivered   through  the   capital   projects  through   the                                                                    
Snowmobile  Trail Development  Program.  She explained  that                                                                    
SnowTRAC administered the funds.  She announced that, in the                                                                    
last year's cycle, the funds  were administered to seventeen                                                                    
different  organizations  such  as   Big  Lake,  the  Denali                                                                    
Highways  Trails Club,  Hatcher's  Pass,  Juneau, the  Chena                                                                    
River  State  Recreational  Area, Petersville,  Willow  Area                                                                    
Trails, and the Yukon Quest Trail.                                                                                              
Representative  Guttenberg  wondered   if  the  grants  were                                                                    
allocated proportionately by community or in another way.                                                                       
Representative Tilton deferred to Ben Ellis.                                                                                    
5:16:09 PM                                                                                                                    
BEN  ELLIS, DIRECTOR,  ALASKA DIVISION  OF  STATE PARKS  AND                                                                    
OUTDOOR RECREATION, DEPARTMENT  OF NATURAL RESOURCES, stated                                                                    
that the percentage of distribution  depended on the type of                                                                    
request. He shared that SnowTRAC  was an advisory board, and                                                                    
ranked  the  grant  requests.  He  stated  that  there  were                                                                    
approximately   50   percent   more  requests   than   funds                                                                    
available.  He stated  that the  recipients would  receive a                                                                    
portion of the request,  and either reduce grooming activity                                                                    
or seek  alternative funding. He stressed  that the requests                                                                    
were granted  at the beginning  of the season, so  there was                                                                    
no  way  of  knowing  the exact  grooming  requirements.  He                                                                    
stated that  leftover money  was rolled  over year  to year,                                                                    
and became  part of the entire  pool that could be  used for                                                                    
safety and education the following year.                                                                                        
Representative  Wilson   wondered  whether  there   was  any                                                                    
attempt to  allocate funds  based on  areas in  which people                                                                    
were registered.                                                                                                                
Mr. Ellis replied in the negative.                                                                                              
Representative  Wilson wondered  whether  a scoring  process                                                                    
was used.                                                                                                                       
Mr.  Ellis  responded  that  there  was  a  scoring  process                                                                    
established by the  SnowTRAC Board. He stressed  that it was                                                                    
an  advisory board,  so there  were  times when  he may  not                                                                    
adhere to the recommendations.                                                                                                  
Representative Gattis  relayed that  there were  many people                                                                    
that purchased registrations in  Anchorage who would use the                                                                    
machines in the Mat-Su                                                                                                          
5:22:51 PM                                                                                                                    
AL BARRETTE, SELF,  FAIRBANKS (via teleconference), strongly                                                                    
opposed  HB  319.  He  talked about  people  who  never  re-                                                                    
registered their machines  in the Interior. He  did not feel                                                                    
that  he  should  have  to  support  a  dog  race  with  his                                                                    
registration  fee.  He referred  to  Page  1, Line  4  which                                                                    
defined an "Off-road vehicle." He thanked the committee.                                                                        
5:25:38 PM                                                                                                                    
ROD    ARNO,   ALASKA    OUTDOOR   COUNCIL,    PALMER   (via                                                                    
teleconference),  supported  the   legislation.  Users  were                                                                    
willing  to pay  their own  way.  He thought  that with  the                                                                    
additional in the committee substitute  would give the users                                                                    
the opportunity to  observe the use of the funds  to see the                                                                    
benefits of the program. He  thanked the sponsor for putting                                                                    
the bill forward and urged support for the bill.                                                                                
5:27:37 PM                                                                                                                    
STEVEN  SAMUELSON, SELF,  PETERSBERG,  did  not support  the                                                                    
bill. He had paid registration  for his snow machine. He had                                                                    
never seen grooming  done on the trails he had  used. He did                                                                    
not  support  paying  fees  that would  cover  the  cost  of                                                                    
grooming elsewhere.                                                                                                             
Co-Chair Thompson CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                      
Co-Chair Thompson discussed the fiscal note.                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Neuman  was  a  high use  snow  machine  user.  He                                                                    
remarked that  much of  the money would  be used  for safety                                                                    
instruction classes.                                                                                                            
5:33:00 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Saddler  relayed that  in his  experience thought                                                                    
it was  appropriate that a  self-funded program  benefit the                                                                    
recreation zones.                                                                                                               
Representative Edgmon was going to  support the bill but did                                                                    
not  think much  of  the  funding would  reach  the area  he                                                                    
Co-Chair Thompson addressed the sunset date.                                                                                    
Representative Wilson mentioned that  in Section 6 there was                                                                    
a  repealer but  another  part took  effect.  She could  not                                                                    
support the bill.                                                                                                               
5:35:44 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Pierson explained that the way  it was written if it did                                                                    
not be re-implemented. The repealer  returns to the previous                                                                    
registration fee.                                                                                                               
Representative Wilson stressed that  the tags were required,                                                                    
but would require no action by the legislature in 2019.                                                                         
Ms.  Pierson   responded  that  Representative   Wilson  was                                                                    
Representative  Wilson  had  a  problem with  the  bill  was                                                                    
because she did not think  that all users would benefit. Her                                                                    
larger issue was because it was  not a user fee. She was not                                                                    
willing to place additional taxes on people.                                                                                    
5:38:16 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Neuman  MOVED to  REPORT  CSHB  319 (FIN)  out  of                                                                    
committee   with   individual    recommendations   and   the                                                                    
accompanying fiscal  note. There being NO  OBJECTION, it was                                                                    
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
CSHB  319 (FIN)  was REPORTED  out of  committee with  a "do                                                                    
pass"  recommendation and  with one  new fiscal  impact note                                                                    
from the Department of Administration.                                                                                          
5:38:16 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
5:41:22 PM                                                                                                                    
5:41:38 PM