Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

02/01/2010 03:15 PM House LABOR & COMMERCE

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03:48:15 PM Start
03:48:41 PM HB294
04:06:28 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Meeting Delayed to 3:45 --
Moved Out of Committee
         HB 294-USE, REGULATION, AND OPERATION OF BOATS                                                                     
3:48:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced that the only order of business would be                                                                  
HOUSE  BILL NO.  294, "An  Act amending  the termination  date of                                                               
certain statutes  relating to the use,  operation, and regulation                                                               
of  boats, a  uniform state  waterway marking  system, and  civil                                                               
liability for  boat owners;  providing for  an effective  date by                                                               
amending the effective date of secs. 3,  5, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18,                                                               
20, 23, 26,  and 27, ch. 28, SLA 2000,  as amended; and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
3:49:03 PM                                                                                                                    
JAMES  ELLIS, Staff,  Representative  Mark  Neuman, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, began by explaining that  this bill is similar to HB
151, which passed  the legislature last session  and extended the                                                               
Statewide Boating  Safety Program for one  year, thereby allowing                                                               
funding to  continue to 2010.   This  bill, HB 294,  would extend                                                               
the sunset  dates of the  Statewide Boating Safety  and Education                                                               
program  for  six years.    The  reason  for  HB 294  is  because                                                               
conflicting  years exist  between the  federal and  state funding                                                               
dates for the  program.  The Statewide Boating  Safety Program is                                                               
currently approved through 2011,  and requires additional funding                                                               
to carry it through the length of the program.                                                                                  
MR.  ELLIS   offered  that  the  Statewide   Boating  Safety  and                                                               
Education program  has been successful  and because  more boaters                                                               
begin  to  follow  safety  rules   the  boating  fatalities  have                                                               
steadily decreased during the tenure of  the law.  It also brings                                                               
Alaska's  law into  compliance with  federal  regulations.   This                                                               
program has taught boating safety  to over 63,000 children, 1,400                                                               
adults, and 104  instructors, as well as  providing assistance to                                                               
law enforcement agencies.                                                                                                       
3:50:19 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH  recalled hearing a  bill on this  topic last                                                               
year.   He offered his belief  that HB 294  is a great bill.   He                                                               
related  that  the state  does  not  fund the  Statewide  Boating                                                               
Safety and Education  program through general fund  dollars so it                                                               
still does not have any state  general fund fiscal impact but the                                                               
state  does  receives  $1.5  million in  federal  funds  for  the                                                               
MR. ELLIS clarified  that some revenue for  the Statewide Boating                                                               
Safety  and Education  program is  obtained from  state licenses;                                                               
otherwise, the program is operated with federal funds.                                                                          
3:51:21 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH  referred to  the fiscal  note.   He remarked                                                               
that $1.25 million is received  in federal receipts, but $200,000                                                               
is derived from other receipts.                                                                                                 
3:51:50 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON asked whether the program would sustain                                                                
itself if federal funding disappeared.                                                                                          
MR. ELLIS responded that without federal funding that the                                                                       
program would terminate.                                                                                                        
3:52:29 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL   FOLKERTS,  Boating   Safety  Recreational   Specialist,                                                               
District Seventeen, United States  Coast Guard (USCG), introduced                                                               
himself  and read  his written  testimony,  as follows  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     My  name  is  Michael  Folkerts,  Recreational  Boating                                                                    
     Safety  Specialist,  for  the Seventeenth  Coast  Guard                                                                    
     District.  It  is a pleasure to appear  before you hear                                                                    
     today  to  discuss  the national  recreational  boating                                                                    
     safety program.                                                                                                            
     The  Coast Guard,  through  the  Secretary of  Homeland                                                                    
     Security,  is   directed  to   carry  out   a  national                                                                    
     recreational boating  safety program under  Chapter 131                                                                    
     of  Title 46,  United States  Code.   The  goal of  the                                                                    
     program is to encourage the  States to assume the major                                                                    
     role   in  carrying   out  boating   safety  education,                                                                    
     assistance,  and  enforcement activities  within  their                                                                    
     jurisdictions and  to foster greater  development, use,                                                                    
     and enjoyment of all the waters of the United States.                                                                      
     Under  this  program,  the Coast  Guard  allocates  and                                                                    
     distributes funds to eligible  States to assist them in                                                                    
     developing,   carrying   out,   and   financing   State                                                                    
     recreational   boating   safety  programs.      Federal                                                                    
     financial assistance to the  States is provided through                                                                    
     the  Boating Safety  Account of  the Aquatic  Resources                                                                    
     Trust Fund,  also known as  the Sport  Fish Restoration                                                                    
     and  Boating  Trust  Fund.   Part  of  the  eligibility                                                                    
     requirement to  receive this funding was  achieved when                                                                    
     Alaska  established the  boating  safety and  education                                                                    
     program by passing  House Bill 108, an  Act Relating to                                                                    
     Boating Safety, in 2000.                                                                                                   
     Alaska's Boating  Safety program has now  been in place                                                                    
     for  10  years.   Recreational  boaters  are safer  and                                                                    
     better educated.   Recreational boating  fatalities are                                                                    
     on  a  downward trend.    The  five-year fatality  rate                                                                    
     averaged 23.8 lives lost per  year from 1995-1999.  Our                                                                    
     most  recent  five-year  average  (2005-2009)  is  15.4                                                                    
     lives lost  per year.   In calendar year 2009,  we lost                                                                    
     12  Alaskans in  recreational boating  accidents, which                                                                    
     is  the   lowest  number   since  the   program  began.                                                                    
     Continuation of  Alaska's Boating Safety  program would                                                                    
     help save lives.                                                                                                           
     The  United   States  Coast  Guard  will   continue  to                                                                    
     maintain  the  strong  working  relationship  with  the                                                                    
     State  of  Alaska  as  outlined   in  a  Memorandum  of                                                                    
     Understanding between the State and the Coast Guard.                                                                       
     Thank  you for  the  opportunity to  appear before  you                                                                    
     today.  I will be glad  to answer any questions you may                                                                    
     have regarding  the Coast Guard  and boating  safety in                                                                    
3:54:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  remarked that  the  USCG  has saved  many                                                               
lives.  He  asked what could be done to  increase the educational                                                               
efforts to  save lives  and further the  outreach for  cold water                                                               
education.  He recalled that when  people fall in cold water that                                                               
their natural instinct is to breathe.   He inquired as to whether                                                               
any safety  tips for survival  are covered  in the state  or USCG                                                               
educational program.                                                                                                            
3:56:13 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. FOLKERTS  answered yes.   He added  that the USCG  works with                                                               
the  Alaska Office  of Boating  Safety  and that  office uses  an                                                               
injury  prevention  model,  which  is an  effective  model.    To                                                               
improve on this model would  take extra educational effort and in                                                               
fact, the USCG  actually prefers to use  the educational approach                                                               
instead of an  enforcement approach to insure boater  safety.  He                                                               
referred  to  statistics in  member's  packets  that shows  a  35                                                               
percent  increase  in compliance  rates.    Thus, during  routine                                                               
patrols, 3 out of 4 boaters  are doing what they should be doing.                                                               
He offered  that 90 percent of  the credit is due  to the efforts                                                               
made by  the Alaska Office  of Boating Safety, in  the Department                                                               
of  Natural Resources  (DNR).   He  applauded  their program  and                                                               
urged continuation of the Statewide  Boating Safety and Education                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   NEUMAN  understood   that  when   the  USCG   is                                                               
conducting  its  patrols, officers  often  find  the boaters  are                                                               
wearing their  floatation devices.  He  recalled that Wisconsin's                                                               
efforts to obtain  matching federal grant funds.   He remarked on                                                               
the  incentives  that  Wisconsin  enforcement  officers  used  to                                                               
promote  boating safety  and use  of personal  flotation devices.                                                               
He  explained that  during  routine  enforcement checks  officers                                                               
would issue  a coupon for  ice cream  when the children  in boats                                                               
were  wearing  personal floatation  devices.    He asked  whether                                                               
similar incentives are offered in Alaska.                                                                                       
MR. FOLKERTS answered  yes.  He related that the  USCG works with                                                               
the local  McDonalds restaurants  to offer certificates  for soft                                                               
ice cream cones.                                                                                                                
3:58:16 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN   related  that  it  is   a  very  different                                                               
experience  when a  person enters  the water  in a  swimsuit than                                                               
when the person is fully dressed.   He inquired as to whether any                                                               
education is  offered for  cold water  survival to  inform people                                                               
how to jettison their clothing to survive.                                                                                      
MR.  FOLKERTS related  that the  DNR's Office  of Boating  Safety                                                               
created an excellent video/DVD called,  Cold Water Boating, which                                                               
he  offered  to   provide  to  the  committee.     The  video/DVD                                                               
production is very professional, has  won national awards, and is                                                               
now  used by  most states  for cold  water survival  training and                                                               
educational purposes.                                                                                                           
3:59:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  asked when  the name  was changed  from life                                                               
preservers to personal floatation devices.                                                                                      
MR.  FOLKERTS said  he did  not know  but offered  the name  will                                                               
likely  change  again.   He  suggested  that personal  floatation                                                               
devices are the same product but is just called by another name.                                                                
3:59:58 PM                                                                                                                    
JANE  SCHULTZ,  Emergency  Medical  Services  Coordinator  (EMS),                                                               
Kenai Peninsula EMS  Council, offered her belief  that the sunset                                                               
clause  in HB  294  is no  longer needed  since  the program  has                                                               
consistently been funded  by the federal government  for over ten                                                               
years.   The  program works  well and  it is  burdensome to  come                                                               
before  the legislature  each year  for funding  authority, which                                                               
wastes legislative and  agency time.  If the  program was allowed                                                               
to  sunset, it  would be  the  first instance  nationwide of  any                                                               
state   ending  their   boating  safety   program,  which   would                                                               
effectively  be refusing  the federal  grant for  boating safety.                                                               
The "Kids Don't  Float Program" has seen  tremendous success with                                                               
documented cases  of the  floatation devices  saving lives.   She                                                               
remarked  that  even some  adults  are  taking advantage  of  the                                                               
program, especially young  men in the higher risk  group from the                                                               
late teen years to 30-year-old age  group.  She said she lives on                                                               
the Kenai  River and has  observed an  increase in the  number of                                                               
fishing  guides  that   are  now  wearing  life   jackets.    The                                                               
statistics demonstrate the effectiveness of  the program.  Now is                                                               
not  the time  to  sunset this  program.   It  seems that  injury                                                               
prevention programs  often lose  funding when the  programs prove                                                               
successful.    Passage  of  HB   294  will  help  insure  that  a                                                               
successful  boating safety  program will  continue to  save lives                                                               
and  the state  will  have clear  and  consistent boating  safety                                                               
regulations.   It would be  a mistake  to stop funding  a program                                                               
that reduced  recreational boating fatalities by  over 20 percent                                                               
in the past ten years.                                                                                                          
4:02:31 PM                                                                                                                    
JAMES  KING, Director,  Division of  Parks &  Outdoor Recreation,                                                               
Department of  Natural Resources (DNR), stated  that this program                                                               
has done  so much for Alaska  residents and visitors.   He agreed                                                               
with  Mr. Folkerts  and  Ms. Schulz  that  the Statewide  Boating                                                               
Safety and  Education program  is very  successful.   Most people                                                               
are  familiar  with  the  life jacket  loaner  boards  placed  at                                                               
harbors and docks in the state  for the Kids Don't Float program.                                                               
There are  514 boards  across the  state serving  153 communities                                                               
and over 24,000  life jackets have been placed on  the boards for                                                               
use  by  boaters.    Seventeen  children  survived  a  cold-water                                                               
experience wearing  these life jackets.   The education component                                                               
is huge,  such as that over  17,000 people have been  educated to                                                               
know the  importance of wearing  life jackets.  Life  jacket wear                                                               
rates are  increasing while  recreational boating  fatalities are                                                               
decreasing  as  a  result  of  this  program.    The  cold  water                                                               
immersion video or  DVD previously mentioned is  an indication of                                                               
the  continued education  provided  under  the Statewide  Boating                                                               
Safety and  Education program.   Thank you  for your  support for                                                               
this program.                                                                                                                   
4:04:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON,  after first  determining  no  one else  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 294.                                                                                     
4:04:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  remarked that she  has spent lots  of time                                                               
on boats  in Alaska  and is  glad the state  has this  program to                                                               
help educate people.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT agreed.  He  related that the fiscal note                                                               
shows  the source  of $200,000  funding from  the vehicle  rental                                                               
tax.  He  stated that he is  unsure of whether this  is the right                                                               
funding source, but  offered to have the  House Finance Committee                                                               
will  check  that  source  when   this  bill  comes  before  that                                                               
committee.  He remarked that HB 294 is a good bill.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  suggested that  the  source  of funds  is                                                               
likely from the registration of boats.                                                                                          
4:05:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT understood  the  funding  source but  he                                                               
maintained  his   concern  that   another  source  may   be  more                                                               
4:05:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  moved to  report HB  294 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
4:06:01 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease at 4:06 p.m.                                                                                 
4:06:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  said that he  misspoke the version  of the                                                               
bill and  restated his  motion.   Representative Neuman  moved to                                                               
report  HB  294  from  the  House  Labor  and  Commerce  Standing                                                               
Committee.   There being no  objection, HB 294 was  reported from                                                               
the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB294 ver R.pdf HL&C 2/1/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 294
HB294 Sponsor Statement ver R.pdf HL&C 2/1/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 294
HB294 Sectional Analysis ver R.pdf HL&C 2/1/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB294 Repealing the sunset provisions of AS 05.25.pdf HL&C 2/1/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 294
HB294 Alaska's Boating Safety Dollars at Work 2010.pdf HL&C 2/1/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB294 Fiscal Note ver A - DNR-Parks-2-01-10.pdf HL&C 2/1/2010 3:15:00 PM
HL&C 2/3/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 294