Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/20/1996 08:02 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 60 - RS 2477 HIGHWAY RIGHTS OF WAY The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs Committee was HJR 60. CHAIR JAMES announced HJR 60 was put forward by the House State Affairs Committee, and called on Walter Wilcox, Legislative Assistant, House State Affairs Committee, to present the sponsor statement. Number 0841 WALT WILCOX, Legislative Assistant, House State Affairs Committee, said HJR 60 dealt with Federal Revised Statute 2477 (RS 2477) that allowed roads and trails used prior to a certain date to be turned into transportation corridors for future highways, rails, and trails. He further stated the bill expired in 1976 and Congress was trying to undo the RS 2477 access trails across Alaska. Therefore, HJR 60 supported the Congressional level resolutions that promoted the extension of the assertion time and the ability of the state to maintain its current roads and trails. He said it was an important issue for Alaska, especially for the east to west transportation corridors, and encouraged the committee members to support the resolution. Number 0914 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that HJR 60 move from the committee with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal note. Number 0931 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS wondered about the hearing this summer in Anchorage regarding RS 2477 and questioned the role of the Attorney General. Number 0954 MR. WILCOX replied the resolution had nothing to do with the Attorney General. He further said HJR 60 supported Senators Murkowski and Stevens, and the ability of Alaska to retain its RS 2477 assertions. Number 0976 CHAIR JAMES said there were 11 cases prepared to go to court to challenge the validity of the RS 2477 trails. As a result of reductions in spending, however, the Department of Law had taken no action against challenging those 11 cases. The state had been expecting action from Washington D.C. to give Alaska an extended length of time to recognize the cases. "The clock was ticking," she said, to assert these rights. Therefore, money was spent for nothing, and if there was not enough money to take the cases to court, the next step was to expect the federal government to do something. That was the issue HJR 60 addressed. It also put Alaska on record with Congress that the state supported it to preserve its RS 2477 right-of-ways. Number 1064 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said there was concern that the state had not moved forward sufficiently to register the claims that were ready. Number 1084 CHAIR JAMES agreed that was a concern. She said, many of the RS 2477 right-of-ways had been identified, but getting information to use in court to assert the right was becoming difficult. There was testimony from the Attorney General that there was action in the federal government to extend the state's time. There was also a question of the notice time and whether it expired in July of 1996. She reiterated there were 11 cases fully documented and ready to go to court. She further said there were two ways to address the issue - through the state or through the federal government. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER commented the two ways to address the issue were not mutually exclusive. CHAIR JAMES replied, "no," they were not mutually exclusive. The best was probably to address it both ways. At this point in time, however, the approach was through the federal government. Number 1180 MR. WILCOX stated the legislature appropriated $1.2 million to help fund this project, and more than 560 routes qualified as an RS 2477 right-of-way. Number 1204 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER wondered why the 11 cases had not been filed. Number 1210 CHAIR JAMES said, according to the Attorney General, the Department of Law was focusing on other civil cases and this was not a priority. The department was also expecting an extension from Congress. Number 1233 MR. WILCOX announced HJR 60 did not address private lands, only public lands. Mr. Wilcox further explained the zero fiscal note was from the House State Affairs Committee, and the only cost incurred would be that which was needed to inform the Alaskan Congressional contingent the results. CHAIR JAMES asked again if there were any objections to the motion. Hearing none, HJR 60 moved from the House State Affairs Committee. The record reflected the arrival of Representative Scott Ogan at 8:23 a.m.