Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/03/2003 08:03 AM House STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB  93-REPEAL BOATING SAFETY SUNSET                                                                                           
[Contains discussion of HB 49]                                                                                                  
Number 2428                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that  the next  order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 93, "An  Act relating to boating safety; repealing                                                               
secs. 3,  5, 7, 9, 11,  14, 16, 18, 20,  23, 26, 27, and  30, ch.                                                               
28, SLA 2000; and providing for an effective date."                                                                             
[Before the committee was CSHB 93(TRA), Version 23-LS0230\Q.]                                                                   
Number 2400                                                                                                                     
LINDA SYLVESTER, Staff to  Representative Bruce Weyhrauch, Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature,   told  the   committee  that   the  proposed                                                               
legislation  is a  continuation of  work  done in  2001 by  then-                                                               
Representative Bill Hudson,  at the request of  the United States                                                               
Coast  Guard.   She  said  [that previous  work]  brought a  fine                                                               
boating safety program  to the State of Alaska.   The funding for                                                               
[the program]  is provided in  large part by  Wallop-Breaux trust                                                               
fund  monies, which  she explained  is  federal fund  money.   By                                                               
having a  boating safety  program in Alaska  "on the  books," the                                                               
state was able to access a marine  motor fuel tax, she said.  Ms.                                                               
Sylvester  noted that  [the state]  has a  program that  provides                                                               
boater education, as well as programs like "Kids Don't Float."                                                                  
MS. SYLVESTER  noted that  one of  the legislature's  concerns in                                                               
the year 2000 was that the  funding would "dry up" on the federal                                                               
level, and  the state would have  an unfunded program.   She said                                                               
that the bill  was crafted "with repealers all through  it."  The                                                               
proposed  legislation would  eliminate the  repealers, she  said,                                                               
with  the   exception  of   an  amendment   made  in   the  House                                                               
Transportation  Standing Committee.   She  explained that  one of                                                               
the most  problematic portions  of the  [boating] safety  law was                                                               
that it required non-motor boats 10  feet and over - for example,                                                               
paddle boats  and kayaks  - to be  registered.   That requirement                                                               
has been  eliminated from HB 93,  she said.  Now,  she added, the                                                               
proposed  legislation   applies  only  to  the   registration  of                                                               
motorboats.   In conclusion, she  noted that the Coast  Guard has                                                               
been relentless in this issue.                                                                                                  
Number 2189                                                                                                                     
MIKE FOLKERTS,  Recreational Boating Safety  Specialist, District                                                               
17, United States Coast Guard, read his testimony as follows:                                                                   
     The   Coast    Guard,   through   the    Secretary   of                                                                    
     Transportation,  is directed  to carry  out a  national                                                                    
     Recreational  Boating Safety  program under  Chapter 31                                                                    
     of  Title 46,  United States  Code.   The  goal of  the                                                                    
     program is to encourage the  states to assume the major                                                                    
     role in carrying out the boating safety mission.                                                                           
     Federal financial assistance to  the states is provided                                                                    
     through  the  boating  safety account  of  the  Aquatic                                                                    
     Resources Trust  Fund, also known as  the Wallop-Breaux                                                                    
     Trust Fund.   Part  of that eligibility  requirement to                                                                    
     receive  the funding  was achieved  when Alaska  passed                                                                    
     House Bill 108,  an Act Relating to  Boating Safety, in                                                                    
     the year 2000.                                                                                                             
     House Bill  108 was  passed with  a sunset  clause that                                                                    
     would  allow  the  legislature   to  revisit  the  law,                                                                    
     primarily  to  ensure   that  consistent  and  adequate                                                                    
     funding  was in  place.   House  Bill  93 repeals  that                                                                    
     sunset,  allowing  the  law  to  become  permanent  and                                                                    
     helping build  a long-term  program that  will continue                                                                    
     to reduce recreational boating fatalities.                                                                                 
     The United  States Coast Guard  supports House  Bill 93                                                                    
     and will  maintain the relationship  with the  State of                                                                    
     Alaska  as outlined  in a  Memorandum of  Understanding                                                                    
     between the state and the Coast Guard.                                                                                     
Number 2157                                                                                                                     
CAPTAIN JOHN SCHOTT, Chief of Operations, District 17, United                                                                   
States Coast Guard, read his testimony as follows:                                                                              
     The Coast Guard enthusiastically  supports the State of                                                                    
     Alaska's Safe  Boating program.  This  program provides                                                                    
     vital boating  safety education for  Alaskans, reducing                                                                    
     the  number of  accidents, saving  lives, and  reducing                                                                    
     the need for costly search and rescue.                                                                                     
     The accurate vessel  registration information available                                                                    
     to us  from the state  is also essential to  our search                                                                    
     and rescue efforts.                                                                                                        
     Currently, with  the homeland security concerns  we all                                                                    
     share, it's  more important than  ever that  we educate                                                                    
     boaters so they  operate safely.  This  helps the Coast                                                                    
     Guard  and other  public  safety  agencies maintain  an                                                                    
     appropriate homeland security posture with our limited                                                                     
     surface and air assets.                                                                                                    
Number 2121                                                                                                                     
MARTHA   MOORE,  Injury   Surveillance  and   Prevention  Program                                                               
Manager, Community Health &  Emergency Medical Services, Division                                                               
of Public Health, Department of  Health & Social Services (DHSS),                                                               
told  the  committee  the  department  enthusiastically  supports                                                               
HB 93.   She  stated that  drowning has  been a  huge problem  in                                                               
Alaska  for many  decades.   She said  that she  has been  in the                                                               
state for  24 years and  knows approximately half a  dozen people                                                               
who were victims of drowning.   Furthermore, she said she is sure                                                               
that everyone  in the room at  present knows "a number  of people                                                               
who have  drowned in this state."   She said that  it reaches the                                                               
point where  people start to  think, "Well, this is  just Alaska,                                                               
this is  the way  it has  to be."   Conversely, Ms.  Moore stated                                                               
that, with  her experience in  injury prevention, she  knows that                                                               
it doesn't have to  be this way.  She noted  that drowning is one                                                               
of  the most  predictable  and preventable  causes of  accidental                                                               
MS.  MOORE told  the committee  that she  collaborates with  [Mr.                                                               
Folkerts] and the Boating Safety  Office regarding the Kids Don't                                                               
Float program.   She stated that she and [Mr.  Folkerts] are also                                                               
on the  board of the  Alaska Marine Safety  Education Association                                                               
(AMSEA) organization.   Ms.  Moore said  that the  boating safety                                                               
programs that the federal money  supports have been evaluated and                                                               
proven to be  effective.  In conclusion, she said  that last year                                                               
there  were   16  boating  fatalities,   the  lowest   number  of                                                               
fatalities in one year [for the  past] decade.  She added, "And I                                                               
think that  with these programs  in place, it will  just continue                                                               
to go down."                                                                                                                    
Number 2003                                                                                                                     
CHARLES R.  HOSACK, Deputy Director, Director's  Office, Division                                                               
of Motor  Vehicles, Department of Administration  (DOA), told the                                                               
committee  that  he  was  available  to  answer  questions.    In                                                               
response to  a question  by Chair Weyhrauch,  he stated  that the                                                               
department supports the continuation  of the boating registration                                                               
program.   He stated  that the  department thinks  that -  as the                                                               
witnesses  from the  United States  Coast  Guard have  previously                                                               
stated  - "it  is an  important safety  aspect."   He said,  "The                                                               
committee  substitute  before  you  does eliminate  the  need  to                                                               
register  the  non-powered  boats,  so there  will  be  a  slight                                                               
decrease  in  revenue."    He said  that  the  non-powered  boats                                                               
require a  $10 fee for  a three-year registration, as  opposed to                                                               
the $24  fee for  the powered  boats.   [The department]  will be                                                               
submitting  a  fiscal  note  that  will  show  that  decrease  in                                                               
[Chair Weyhrauch  passed around the complete  registration record                                                               
for his 16-foot Boston Whaler.]                                                                                                 
Number 1891                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  asked  if the  Department  of  Natural                                                               
Resources (DNR) would administer this.                                                                                          
Number 1886                                                                                                                     
JEFF  JOHNSON,  Boating  Law  Administrator,  Office  of  Boating                                                               
Safety,  Division of  Parks &  Outdoor Recreation,  Department of                                                               
Natural Resources  (DNR), answered  that yes, the  Alaska Boating                                                               
Safety  program  is currently  administered  by  DNR through  the                                                               
Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation.                                                                                         
MR.  HOSACK,  in  response  to  a  question  from  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg,  said  there  is  a   fiscal  note  missing  from  the                                                               
committee packet.  He stated  that because [of] "the amendment to                                                               
eliminate the  requirement to register non-powered  boats," there                                                               
would  be a  decrease  in  revenue, estimated  to  drop from  the                                                               
$39,000 currently collected to approximately $35,000 a year.                                                                    
MR.  FOLKERTS,  in  response  to  a  question  by  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg, reiterated that  the program is federally  funded.  He                                                               
added  that  it  is  almost exclusively  [supported  by]  federal                                                               
funding  and registration  receipts;  "there's  no money  out-of-                                                               
pocket  for the  state  on this."   In  response  to a  follow-up                                                               
question from  Representative Gruenberg, he said  that the amount                                                               
of federal  funding varies.   He explained  that it  [involves] a                                                               
three-part   program,   which  is   based   on   the  number   of                                                               
registrations  "last  year."    He stated  that  he  thinks  "the                                                               
federal  funding  portion  of  it   was  slightly  in  excess  of                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said, "I gather  ... that there was some                                                               
concern about  ... taking  this over,  because what  happens when                                                               
the federal funding goes away?"                                                                                                 
MR. FOLKERTS answered yes, there  was concern that there would be                                                               
an unfunded  mandate to  the state; however,  in this  case, when                                                               
there's no state money being applied  to the program, "if the law                                                               
were to go away, so would the program and so would the money."                                                                  
Number 1705                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG noted that  the House Judiciary Standing                                                               
Committee  was  faced  with  a   similar  question  over  a  bill                                                               
regarding  federal  money  for DNA  identification  for  criminal                                                               
justice [HB 49].   He noted that he offered  an amendment adopted                                                               
by [the House Judiciary Standing  Committee] that stated, in that                                                               
case, that  "the Commissioner of  Public Safety shall  notify the                                                               
president  of  the  Senate  and  the  speaker  of  the  House  of                                                               
Representatives if, at  any time after the effective  date of the                                                               
bill, the  federal government fails  to pay  the cost of  the DNA                                                               
identification  registration system."    He  suggested that  that                                                               
amendment could be tailored  to fit [HB 93] and may  be a way for                                                               
the  legislature to  know if  the government  stops funding  [the                                                               
boating safety program].                                                                                                        
Number 1639                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH stated  that the  bill  would have  to be  held,                                                               
pending the missing fiscal note.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said,  "That  was Section  14  of  the                                                               
Number 1621                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ referred  to part  of Section  2, which                                                               
read  as  follows   [on  page  2,  lines  13-20,   of  the  House                                                               
Transportation  Standing   Committee  CS,   original  punctuation                                                               
              (4) a boat that is not equipped with                                                                              
     mechanical propulsion [, THAT IS EXCLUSIVELY PADDLED,                                                                      
     POLED, ROWED, OR POWERED BY WIND, AND THAT IS                                                                              
                    (A) UNDER 10 FEET IN LENGTH; OR                                                                             
                    (B) OPERATED IN THIS STATE FOR A PERIOD                                                                     
          NOT EXCEEDING 30 DAYS IN A CALENDAR YEAR BY A                                                                         
          PERSON WHO HAS NOT ESTABLISHED RESIDENCY AS                                                                           
          DESCRIBED UNDER AS 01.10.055];                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ, regarding "a  boat that is not equipped                                                               
with  mechanical propulsion",  said,  "It seems  to  me that  you                                                               
could read that in such a  way that you're excluding boats - that                                                               
might be  equipped with outboards,  but currently  don't actually                                                               
have the outboards mounted -  from registration, which would have                                                               
an impact on the fiscal note."                                                                                                  
MR. FOLKERTS  replied that if a  vessel, such as a  rowboat, does                                                               
not have an outboard motor attached  to it, and it is exclusively                                                               
rowed or  pulled, then it  would be exempt under  "this committee                                                               
substitute" from the registration process.                                                                                      
Number 1555                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ stated  his understanding  that the  CS                                                               
from  the House  Transportation  Standing  Committee amended  the                                                               
section regarding "THAT IS EXCLUSIVELY  PADDLED, POLED, ROWED, OR                                                               
POWERED BY WIND",  which he said leaves the  following boats that                                                               
are  exempt:   "a  boat  that  is  not equipped  with  mechanical                                                               
propulsion".    He  explained  that  a Lund,  or  a  Whaler,  for                                                               
example,  without the  outboard  mounted, is  "not equipped  with                                                               
mechanical  propulsion"; therefore  it  would not  be subject  to                                                               
registration requirements.                                                                                                      
MR. FOLKERTS responded that, if  [Representative Berkowitz] had a                                                               
22-  or 24-foot  Boston Whaler,  without any  type of  mechanical                                                               
propulsion,  it would  be exempt  from registration.   He  added,                                                               
"And I would love to watch you dock in a wind, sir."                                                                            
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH ask  Mr. Folkerts if there will or  will not be a                                                               
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
Number 1507                                                                                                                     
MR. FOLKERTS, referring  to the previous comments  of Mr. Hosack,                                                               
stated his  belief that the  original HB  93 would not  require a                                                               
fiscal note  because there  would be  no fiscal  impact; however,                                                               
the CS would  reduce the amount of  registration monies available                                                               
to the  state by removing  the registration requirement  for non-                                                               
powered boats.                                                                                                                  
Number 1480                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked what percentage of  the registration                                                               
applies to non-powered boats.                                                                                                   
Number 1452                                                                                                                     
MR. HOSACK answered that, currently,  there are 56,900 registered                                                               
boats.   Of those, 7,100 are  non-powered boats.  He  said, "Last                                                               
year, we had  about 17,900 transactions from  motorized boats and                                                               
[3,500] transactions from  non-powered boats."  In  response to a                                                               
request for clarification from  Representative Seaton, Mr. Hosack                                                               
explained  that  the registrations  are  valid  for a  three-year                                                               
period.   He added,  "So, of  those total  boats, we'll  see them                                                               
once every three years, unless they change ownership."                                                                          
Number 1384                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM asked  Mr. Hosack,  "If you  don't have  the                                                               
$35,000,  you have  no access  to the  general fund  to get  that                                                               
money back any place.  Is that correct?"                                                                                        
MR. HOSACK answered that is correct.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM stated,  "If that  were true  ... sir,  then                                                               
there is no  negative impact to your operating budget,  or to the                                                               
revenue stream of  the State of Alaska.  There's  only a negative                                                               
impact to how  much money that you  have to spend."   He asked if                                                               
that is correct.                                                                                                                
MR. HOSACK answered, "I don't believe  so."  He stated that "last                                                               
year," the  total collected was  $456,600 in  boat registrations,                                                               
which  included  both  motorized  and non-motorized  boats.    He                                                               
reiterated that $35,000 of that  was from the non-motorized boats                                                               
and [that  money would  not be  collected if  the proposed  CS is                                                               
passed],  which  decrease  the revenue  going  into  the  state's                                                               
general  fund.   That's  what  a fiscal  note  would reflect,  he                                                               
Number 1302                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM  asked Mr.  Hosack if  it was  his assessment                                                               
that, by  decreasing the  workload, there would  be no  effect on                                                               
the cost of the operation.                                                                                                      
MR. HOSACK answered  that there will be associated  costs for the                                                               
tabs  and mailing,  for example,  as well  as "about  ... half  a                                                               
position," based on the previously stated transaction numbers.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM asked  how that  would then  translate to  a                                                               
positive impact on the cash flow of the department.                                                                             
MR. HOSACK responded  that he does not believe that  it will be a                                                               
positive cash  flow.   He said,  "My fiscal  note will  reflect a                                                               
reduction  in  the  revenue  due  to  not  registering  the  non-                                                               
motorized boats;  it will reflect  a decrease in costs  for those                                                               
3,500 transactions, which we'll no longer have to do."                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM  asked if  Mr.  Hosack  was stating  to  the                                                               
committee that the cost of those  transactions is less than $10 a                                                               
piece.   In response to  a comment by Mr.  Hosack, Representative                                                               
Holm clarified that  he was asking if the cost  to the department                                                               
of providing those registrations is less than $10 per unit.                                                                     
MR. HOSACK answered yes.  He continued as follows:                                                                              
     Our total fiscal  note for the boating bill,  as it was                                                                    
     originally passed - in the  current fiscal year - is, I                                                                    
     believe, $378,000.   We took in $456,600  in revenue in                                                                    
     fiscal year 2002.                                                                                                          
Number 1165                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH requested  that  Mr. Hosack  produce the  fiscal                                                               
note by tomorrow.                                                                                                               
MR. HOSACK agreed to do so.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  asked that  the  fiscal  note reflect  an                                                               
estimate of the "half position" previously mentioned.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked, "If  there's federal money coming                                                               
in, and  there's revenue  from the  sale of  these registrations,                                                               
isn't there a considerable profit to the state?"                                                                                
Number 1090                                                                                                                     
MR. FOLKERTS explained  that there is a benefit to  the state, in                                                               
that, by  law, 75 percent of  the monies coming in  is designated                                                               
for  education,  which  he  said is  "what  the  state's  boating                                                               
program does."   He suggested that  Mr. Johnson may have  more to                                                               
add  to the  answer.   In  response to  a  follow-up question  by                                                               
Representative  Gruenberg,  he said  that  he  believes that  the                                                               
other 25  percent is used  administratively, perhaps to  help the                                                               
Department of Public  Safety "do the enforcement  portion of it,"                                                               
for example.                                                                                                                    
Number 1040                                                                                                                     
MR. JOHNSON noted  that there are several qualifiers  that all 56                                                               
states  and territories  must  satisfy in  order  to qualify  for                                                               
federal [funding].   Boat registration is one of  those, he said.                                                               
If  [Alaska]   fulfills  those  requirements,   the  registration                                                               
receipts  that used  to be  paid to  the federal  government, and                                                               
therefore went  into the U.S.  Treasury, now remain in  the State                                                               
of  Alaska.   Furthermore, the  state qualifies  for the  federal                                                               
grant  money,  which it  didn't  qualify  for  before.   The  net                                                               
benefit to the state, estimated in FY 03, totals $490,000.                                                                      
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  asked  Mr.  Johnson  and  Mr.  Hosack  to  work                                                               
together  to prepare  the fiscal  note  previously requested,  so                                                               
that they are "both on the same page."                                                                                          
[HB 93 was held over.]                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects