Legislature(2009 - 2010)

04/15/2009 05:17 PM House JUD

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 148 - LIABILITY FOR TRIBAL ROAD CONSTRUCTION                                                                               
6:09:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
CS FOR SENATE  BILL NO. 148(JUD), "An Act  relating to limitation                                                               
of  state  liability on  certain  federal  highway programs;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."   [Before the committee was HCS                                                               
CSSB 148(TRA).]                                                                                                                 
6:09:40 PM                                                                                                                    
DOROTHY  SHOCKLEY, Staff,  Senator Albert  Kookesh, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  on behalf  of the  sponsor by  request, the  Senate                                                               
Transportation Standing  Committee, which  is chaired  by Senator                                                               
Kookesh,  explained  that  SB  148 would  resolve  the  issue  of                                                               
liability to the State or  employees of the State when partnering                                                               
with  federal-recognized  tribes  under  the  Indian  Reservation                                                               
Roads  (IRR) Program.   With  the  decline in  state and  federal                                                               
highway  funding it's  imperative that  everyone collaborate  and                                                               
work together,  and SB 148  will assist that  partnering process,                                                               
and  ultimately  benefit all  Alaskans  by  leading to  long-term                                                               
improvements    in    the    state's    overall    transportation                                                               
MS.  SHOCKLEY mentioned  that  members'  packets contain  letters                                                               
from  the  commissioner of  the  Department  of Transportation  &                                                               
Public  Facilities (DOT&PF),  Manley  Village  Council, and  Ruby                                                               
Tribal Council; two  handouts from the IRR Program  - one listing                                                               
villages and  the money  being allocated to  them, and  the other                                                               
providing a breakdown of inventory,  population, and funding; and                                                               
a synopsis by the DOT&PF of  the IRR Program, the road inventory,                                                               
how the  funding occurs, and what  that funding can be  used for.                                                               
She noted that 25 percent of  each year's funding can be used for                                                               
maintenance,  with  the  remainder  being  used  for  design  and                                                               
construction  and  for matching  other  federal  funds, and  that                                                               
tribes could  get up to  [an additional] $35 million  in American                                                               
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funding.                                                                           
6:12:44 PM                                                                                                                    
PETER  PUTZIER,  Senior  Assistant  Attorney  General,  Opinions,                                                               
Appeals, & Ethics, Civil Division  (Anchorage), Department of Law                                                               
(DOL), noted that both the DOT&PF  and the tribes support SB 148,                                                               
and  that  the  "plaintiffs  bar"  was consulted  as  well.    He                                                               
explained that a  provision was added to the bill  to address the                                                               
bar's  concerns regarding  what standards  would apply  if tribes                                                               
were to perform  work on State roads and  then litigation ensued.                                                               
Some of  the standards that would  apply are defined in  25 C.F.R                                                               
170,  Subpart D,  Appendix B,  and  certainly the  State, in  any                                                               
agreement,  would   require  that   certain  standards   be  met;                                                               
furthermore,  the   language  chosen  for  the   bill  was,  "all                                                               
applicable federal and state standards".   However, that's not to                                                               
suggest  that both  federal and  state standards  would apply  in                                                               
every  case, or  even  that every  conceivable  standard must  be                                                               
listed;  rather,  there  should  simply be  a  requirement  or  a                                                               
reference in the bill that  applicable standards be followed when                                                               
tribes work on State roads.                                                                                                     
MR. PUTIER,  in conclusion,  noted that the  language on  page 1,                                                               
lines 12-14, through page 2, lines 1-2, reads:                                                                                  
     In  this  subsection,  "independent  negligence"  means                                                                    
     negligence that  is not due  to the  state's selection,                                                                    
     supervision,     administration,     monitoring,     or                                                                    
     controlling  of  the  activities   of  the  tribe,  the                                                                    
     tribe's  agents,  employees,  or  contractors,  or  the                                                                    
     state's  approving   or  accepting  any  of   the  work                                                                    
     performed under programs listed in this subsection.                                                                        
6:14:59 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  moved to  report HCS CSSB  148(TRA) out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying zero  fiscal note.   There  being no  objection, HCS                                                               
CSSB  148(TRA) was  reported from  the  House Judiciary  Standing                                                               

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