Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

02/28/2017 03:00 PM House STATE AFFAIRS

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<Bill Hearing Postponed to 5:30 Meeting>
           HB 82-RESTRICTED OFF HWY DRIVER'S LICENSE                                                                        
3:12:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that  the next order  of business                                                               
would  be  HOUSE  BILL  NO.  82,  "An  Act  relating  to  vehicle                                                               
registration;    relating   to    off-road   system    restricted                                                               
noncommercial   drivers'   licenses;  relating   to   off-highway                                                               
commercial  drivers'   licenses;  relating  to   off-road  system                                                               
eligible  areas;   and  relating   to  motor   vehicle  liability                                                               
3:12:45 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at ease at 3:12 p.m.                                                                                 
3:12:51 PM                                                                                                                    
BERETT  WILBER,  Staff,   Representative  Kreiss-Tomkins,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  presented HB  82 on behalf  of Representative                                                               
Kreiss-Tomkins,  prime sponsor.    She stated  that  HB 82  would                                                               
change the criteria for an individual  to be eligible for an off-                                                               
highway driver's license.   She said that under  AS 28.15.126, an                                                               
individual  is eligible  if his/her  community  is on  a list  of                                                               
communities published  by the Division  of Motor  Vehicles (DMV).                                                               
She  stated that  the list  consists  of off-highway  communities                                                               
without  DMV  offices,  and these  communities  are  exempt  from                                                               
vehicle  registration   and  insurance.    She   added  that  DMV                                                               
publishes  this list  every year  under  the insurance  exemption                                                               
statute  [AS  28.22.011],  and  residents  of  these  communities                                                               
qualify for off-highway driver's licenses.                                                                                      
MS. WILBER relayed  that in 2014, "traffic count" was  added as a                                                               
new  criterion for  the  list of  off-highway  communities.   She                                                               
explained that  if a rural,  off-highway community had  a traffic                                                               
count of  greater than  499, it  was removed  from the  list, and                                                               
residents  could  no  longer  qualify  for  off-highway  driver's                                                               
licenses.   She  mentioned  that five  rural communities  without                                                               
access to  DMV offices were removed  from the list based  on this                                                               
new criterion -  Kake, Hoonah, Angoon, Seldovia, and  Hyder.  She                                                               
asserted that HB  82 would change statute to  ensure that traffic                                                               
count would  no longer determine a  community's qualification for                                                               
the off-highway driver's license,  thereby reinstating those five                                                               
communities  to the  list of  eligible communities.   She  opined                                                               
that  it  is  unreasonable  and  prohibitively  expensive  for  a                                                               
resident of  rural communities to  fly to Anchorage or  Juneau to                                                               
get a driver's license and results in people driving illegally.                                                                 
3:17:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH  moved  to  adopt  the  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS) for HB 82,  Version 30-LS0367\D, Martin, 2/27/17,                                                               
as the working document.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX objected for the purpose of discussion.                                                                   
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS explained  that the  CS  for HB  82 is  the                                                               
newest  iteration  of  the  bill   and  was  developed  in  close                                                               
consultation with DMV.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX withdrew  her objection.   There  being no                                                               
further objection, Version D was before the committee.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  asked what  criteria was  used to  qualify a                                                               
community to  be on  the list  of off-highway  communities before                                                               
the traffic-count criteria.                                                                                                     
MS. WILBER answered that the  criteria was that the community was                                                               
not connected to  the land state highway system and  did not have                                                               
access to a  DMV office that offered road testing  for a driver's                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  asked  if  in the  communities  that  don't                                                               
require a driver's  license, a driver isn't required  to have car                                                               
MS. WILBER  replied that under  current statute, a  person living                                                               
in one  of the  294 communities  that allow  off-highway driver's                                                               
licenses is exempt from registration and insurance.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL asked  for clarification  that residents  of                                                               
the five  communities with a traffic  count of over 499  would be                                                               
exempt from  having insurance as  well as driver's licenses.   He                                                               
asked  if there  is an  age requirement  for drivers  not needing                                                               
driver's licenses and insurance.                                                                                                
3:20:36 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. WILBER  pointed out that in  none of the communities  are you                                                               
allowed  to drive  without a  license.   She  explained that  the                                                               
proposed  legislation  would allow  a  resident  to get  an  off-                                                               
highway  restricted  driver's  license   -  a  specific  type  of                                                               
driver's  license that  can be  obtained through  the mail.   She                                                               
asserted that the  intent of HB 91 is to  provide a mechanism for                                                               
rural  residents   to  obtain  legal  licenses   to  drive,  thus                                                               
preventing under-age driving.                                                                                                   
3:21:34 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  asked for clarification that  an off-highway                                                               
driver's  license   requires  paperwork,  a  written   test,  the                                                               
applicant to be a certain age,  but not a road test or insurance.                                                               
He asked if under the  proposed legislation, the residents of the                                                               
five  communities  having the  higher  traffic  count would  have                                                               
those same requirements.                                                                                                        
MS. WILBER  answered that under  current statute,  an off-highway                                                               
restricted driver's  license:  requires  passing a  written test;                                                               
requires verifying identity with DMV;  cannot be used outside the                                                               
country or on  the state highway system; and can  only be used in                                                               
an off-highway restricted area.                                                                                                 
MS.  WILBER stated  that all  communities that  are eligible  for                                                               
off-highway   driver's  licenses   are   currently  exempt   from                                                               
registration and insurance, and that  would continue under HB 82.                                                               
She  added that  the  five communities  that  would become  newly                                                               
eligible under HB  82 would also be exempt  from registration and                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL asked  if  a community  that  loses its  DMV                                                               
office through  budget cuts would qualify  automatically for off-                                                               
highway driver's licenses.                                                                                                      
MS. WILBER answered that language in  HB 83 states that if a road                                                               
test is not  offered in a community for more  than 12 months, the                                                               
community   then  becomes   eligible  for   off-highway  driver's                                                               
licenses.   She  added  that this  would give  DMV  12 months  to                                                               
provide other options  for road tests:   establish a commissioned                                                               
agent position  in the community;  fly a DMV  representative into                                                               
the community; or contract with a third party.                                                                                  
3:26:25 PM                                                                                                                    
MARLA  THOMPSON,  Director,  Division of  Motor  Vehicles  (DMV),                                                               
Department  of   Administration  (DOA),  reiterated  that   if  a                                                               
community lost  DMV services  for 12 months,  it would  be exempt                                                               
from registration and insurance.                                                                                                
3:27:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. WILBER  confirmed in response  to Representative  LeDoux that                                                               
the five communities that would be  affected by HB 83 are Hoonah,                                                               
Kake, Angoon, Seldovia, and Hyder.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  stated that she understands  the situation                                                               
in the  villages, but she  expressed that  Seldovia is a  city of                                                               
substantial size with paved highways.   She asked how many people                                                               
in the five communities are  eligible to have a driver's licenses                                                               
but don't.                                                                                                                      
MS. WILBER mentioned  that Seldovia has a population  of 255, and                                                               
the  last  traffic  count  study performed  in  2007  revealed  a                                                               
highest average daily traffic count of 665.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  for  an  explanation  of  "traffic                                                               
MS. WILBER said  that traffic count, also known  as average daily                                                               
traffic   (ADT),   is   one    assessment   the   Department   of                                                               
Transportation  & Public  Facilities (DOT&PF)  uses to  determine                                                               
the classification  of roads.   She added that  it is a  count of                                                               
the number of people who drive over  a given segment of road on a                                                               
given day.                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  if "655"  refers to  the number  of                                                               
cars driving over a segment of road.                                                                                            
MS. WILBER  responded yes.   She clarified  that the  number does                                                               
not refer  to the  number of  individual cars  but the  number of                                                               
times over which the traffic count strip has been driven.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  if   the  traffic  assessment  was                                                               
performed in  the summer or  winter, since Seldovia is  a tourist                                                               
destination in the summer.                                                                                                      
MS.  WILBER answered  that the  reason  it is  called an  average                                                               
daily  traffic  count  is  because   a  statistical  analysis  is                                                               
performed  on   the  actual  numbers   collected  to   produce  a                                                               
representative count.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  how long  it takes  to travel  from                                                               
Seldovia to Homer by ferry.                                                                                                     
MS. WILBER replied that she  didn't know but asserted that having                                                               
to  travel  by  ferry  to   obtain  a  driver's  license  was  an                                                               
imposition, and  a community such  as Seldovia should be  able to                                                               
qualify for off-highway  driver's licenses.  She  stated that DMV                                                               
and DOT&PF personnel have indicated to her that there are off-                                                                  
highway communities that  would have traffic counts  of over 499,                                                               
if  a traffic  count  were  performed.   She  mentioned that  the                                                               
communities  of Hooper  Bay, Sandpoint,  King Cove,  Selawik, and                                                               
Togiak, which all have populations  significantly larger than the                                                               
five  mentioned in  relation to  the proposed  legislation, would                                                               
likely have  traffic counts over 499.   She added that  DOT&PF is                                                               
not likely  to do traffic  counts in these communities,  which is                                                               
why they  have never  been removed from  the list  of off-highway                                                               
communities.   She stated  that HB 83  was introduced  to protect                                                               
rural communities that don't have  road access to DMVs from being                                                               
removed from  the list  of off-highway  communities in  the event                                                               
DOT&PF  performed a  traffic count.   She  opined that  a traffic                                                               
count is not a good  metric for determining qualification for the                                                               
off-highway driver's license.                                                                                                   
3:33:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON offered  that Seldovia  stands out  among                                                               
the five communities  because it has many roads  and many people.                                                               
She  also  mentioned  that  communities  with  ferry  access  are                                                               
different from bush communities with just  a few miles of road in                                                               
the middle of nowhere.  She  added that the Alaska Marine Highway                                                               
is part of the state's transportation system.                                                                                   
MS. WILBER confirmed that all  five communities are served by the                                                               
ferry  system.   Under HB  83, they  would qualify  for the  off-                                                               
highway driver's license, because they  are not connected [to DMV                                                               
offices] by land.  She offered  that it is prohibitive for people                                                               
in those communities to buy  ferry tickets, hotel rooms, and take                                                               
road tests in an unfamiliar community,  just so they can drive in                                                               
their  own   community.    She   opined  that  even   though  the                                                               
communities have access to a DMV  office by ferry, the ability of                                                               
the  residents to  obtain  driver's licenses  is  impaired.   She                                                               
reiterated that HB  83 would allow them to  access legal licenses                                                               
that other Alaskans access without the expense and time.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON pointed  out that Hyder is  connected to a                                                               
road system.                                                                                                                    
3:37:59 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  asked if  the  age  limit for  a  driver's                                                               
license applies to an off-highway driver's license.                                                                             
MS. WILBER responded yes, the two are the same.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP offered that in  the summer, there are about                                                               
2,000 people  in Seldovia; there  are not  many roads; and  it is                                                               
less  than an  hour from  Homer  by ferry.   He  stated that  his                                                               
concern  is regarding  the increased  summer traffic  in Seldovia                                                               
and the uninsured drivers with off-highway driver's licenses.                                                                   
He asked  if the off-highway  driver's license system  is working                                                               
well given those drivers are exempt from insurance.                                                                             
MS.  THOMPSON responded  that currently  1,527 drivers  have off-                                                               
highway restricted  licenses.   She said  that those  drivers are                                                               
not required to pay DMV  registration fees or to obtain insurance                                                               
while driving in the off-highway  community.  She maintained that                                                               
if  the driver  is driving  in a  community that  is not  an off-                                                               
highway community, then the  off-highway driver's license becomes                                                               
a  de facto  permit,  and  the driver  needs  a regular  driver's                                                               
license  or  must  be  accompanied  by  someone  with  a  regular                                                               
driver's license.   She mentioned that the  number of off-highway                                                               
driver's licenses is small due to the restrictions on them.                                                                     
3:43:11 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP reiterated his  concern is about local young                                                               
people   driving  around   Seldovia  with   off-highway  driver's                                                               
licenses and no  insurance.  He asserted that  every other driver                                                               
is  required to  maintain insurance,  and a  visitor to  Seldovia                                                               
could be a victim of an uninsured driver.                                                                                       
3:44:10 PM                                                                                                                    
AUDREY  O'BRIEN,  Driver Services  -  Juneau,  Division of  Motor                                                               
Vehicles  (DMV), Department  of  Administration (DOA),  confirmed                                                               
that  for  a person  in  Seldovia  with an  off-highway  driver's                                                               
license, insurance is  optional, and a visitor  to Seldovia could                                                               
be at risk of a collision with an uninsured driver.                                                                             
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS offered  a scenario:   Someone  from Valdez                                                               
travels  to Tatitlek  or  King  Cove, both  of  which have  ferry                                                               
service and  are off-highway eligible communities.   The visitor,                                                               
who does  have insurance, gets  T-boned by an  uninsured Tatitlek                                                               
or King Cove driver.   Representative Kreiss-Tomkins asked, "What                                                               
happens to the  insured driver who just got hit  by the uninsured                                                               
MS. O'BRIEN replied  that in that situation, the  driver does not                                                               
face a license  suspension as would a  driver "on-system" because                                                               
insurance is not  required for the off-highway driver.   She went                                                               
on to say  that there still could be an  application of financial                                                               
responsibility for the off-highway driver  depending on who is at                                                               
3:47:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH  asked  if  the roads  in  the  off-highway                                                               
communities are publicly constructed roads or private roads.                                                                    
MS.   O'BRIEN  conjectured   that   these   communities  have   a                                                               
combination of public and private roads.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked if it  is reasonable to permit drivers                                                               
with no registration or insurance on public roads.                                                                              
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS asked what  the insurance implications would                                                               
be for the insured driver in the scenario he offered.                                                                           
MS.  O'BRIEN responded  that depending  on  the insured  driver's                                                               
coverage,  damages  for which  he/she  was  responsible could  be                                                               
reimbursed, and damages  caused by the uninsured  driver could be                                                               
reimbursed  under uninsured  motorist coverage.   If  the insured                                                               
driver did not have uninsured  motorist coverage, he/she may have                                                               
to pay  for the damages  caused by  the uninsured driver  or seek                                                               
compensation by other means.                                                                                                    
3:51:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  how many  people in  the five  off-                                                               
highway communities would  be affected by HB 83  because they are                                                               
eligible  for a  driver's license  and have  a vehicle  but don't                                                               
have a  regular driver's  license.  She  opined that  many people                                                               
travel out of Seldovia for services.                                                                                            
MS.  O'BRIEN answered  that she  doesn't have  that number.   She                                                               
said  she could  attempt to  get that  information but  would not                                                               
know who chose not to have a driver's license.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked if  people with  driving violations,                                                               
such as  driving under the  influence (DUI), can  get off-highway                                                               
driver's licenses.                                                                                                              
MS. O'BRIEN  answered that the  only difference between  the off-                                                               
highway  driver's license  and the  regular license  is that  the                                                               
former does  not require a  road test.   She maintained  that all                                                               
other  licensing  criteria that  applies  to  a regular  driver's                                                               
license applies to  an off-highway driver's license.   She stated                                                               
that if driving  privileges have been revoked  for an individual,                                                               
he/she  would  not  have off-highway  driving  privileges.    She                                                               
added, however, that a court-ordered  requirement for an ignition                                                               
interlock   device  is   forgiven  in   the  off-highway   listed                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  what  the rationale  was  for  not                                                               
requiring insurance.                                                                                                            
MS.  O'BRIEN replied  that  her understanding  was  that back  in                                                               
1986, when  this was enacted, traffic  in those areas was  so low                                                               
that there was very little risk.                                                                                                
3:55:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  suggested that the explanation  for allowing                                                               
uninsured  drivers might  be  because  insurance companies  don't                                                               
insure unlicensed drivers.                                                                                                      
MS. O'BRIEN  responded that her contact  with insurance companies                                                               
suggests  to her  they are  unfamiliar with  off-highway driver's                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  asked if commercial driver's  licenses still                                                               
would be required in the off-highway communities.                                                                               
MS. O'BRIEN  answered that  HB 83 would  not change  the criteria                                                               
for commercial  licensing in off-highway communities.   She added                                                               
that there is a restriction  for commercial licenses based on the                                                               
size of  the community, which  is an exemption applied  to Alaska                                                               
under federal law.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK asked  for  clarification that  HB 83  would                                                               
require the off-highway communities to be listed in statute.                                                                    
MS. O'BRIEN  responded that DMV  publishes a list  of off-highway                                                               
communities, and HB 83 would  change the criteria for communities                                                               
to be on the list.                                                                                                              
3:58:53 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP expressed  his concern  for people  who are                                                               
unaware of  off-highway driver's  licenses being  in an  area not                                                               
requiring  liability insurance  policies.   He  stated that  most                                                               
people   have  an   uninsured/underinsured  provision   on  their                                                               
insurance policy.   He asked if that provision  would protect the                                                               
insured  driver in  the event  of a  collision with  an uninsured                                                               
MS.  O'BRIEN stated  that she  is not  aware of  any clause  that                                                               
would  render the  insurance policy  invalid  in the  off-highway                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   KNOPP   offered   that   the   intent   of   the                                                               
uninsured/underinsured  provision  is   to  protect  the  insured                                                               
4:01:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked if  the off-highway driver's license                                                               
communities have resident law enforcement officers.                                                                             
MS. WILBER  answered that in  speaking with Department  of Public                                                               
Safety (DPS) personnel, three of  the communities addressed by HB
83 have police departments.                                                                                                     
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS offered  his  belief that  Kake and  Angoon                                                               
have  Village  Public  Safety  Officers  (VPSOs);  Hoonah  has  a                                                               
municipal  police department;  Seldovia  has  a municipal  police                                                               
department;  and   Hyder  does   not  have  a   municipal  police                                                               
4:02:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked if  the off-highway driver's license                                                               
would qualify as a "REAL ID."                                                                                                   
MS. Thompson answered no, it would not  qualify as a REAL ID.  In                                                               
response to  a previous question  on the number  of registrations                                                               
per city,  she offered that  there is  a total of  2,752 vehicles                                                               
registered  with the  breakdown  as follows:    Angoon with  264;                                                               
Hoonah with 993; Kake with 374; and Seldovia with 1,119.                                                                        
MS.  THOMPSON,  in  response to  Representative  Wool,  confirmed                                                               
there were 1,527 individuals  with off-highway driver's licenses.                                                               
She clarified that  the people in the  four communities currently                                                               
have regular driver's licenses.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL opined  that a town with  a thousand vehicles                                                               
does not constitute  light road traffic.  He offered  that in the                                                               
case of  Seldovia, accessing a  DMV office entails a  short ferry                                                               
ride and  is not much  of a burden.   He mentioned that  Hyder is                                                               
connected to the  road system.  He said that  he is interested in                                                               
the  number of  cars  traveling  to Homer  from  Seldovia in  the                                                               
4:07:23 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX stated that  she agrees with Representative                                                               
Wool.   She opined, however,  that some of the  other communities                                                               
on the  off-highway list  might also have  a high  traffic count,                                                               
and it is unfair to exclude  these five communities based on high                                                               
traffic  count, when  other communities  on the  list might  also                                                               
have  high  traffic  count.     She  suggested  that  instead  of                                                               
including  these  five  communities   on  the  list,  an  equally                                                               
reasonable  solution might  be to  consider  excluding the  other                                                               
communities with high traffic count.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK asked  if the  ADT  count was  removed as  a                                                               
criterion,  the only  other way  to remove  a community  from the                                                               
list  of  exemptions  would  be  to open  a  DMV  office  in  the                                                               
MS. THOMPSON  answered yes.  There  would have to be  a road test                                                               
available  in  the community,  either  through  a DMV  office,  a                                                               
business partner, or a commissioned agent.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked Ms. Thompson  to provide information to                                                               
the  committee identifying  the community  with the  smallest ADT                                                               
count that has a DMV office.                                                                                                    
4:09:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH referred to  the financial implication of HB
83 and  asked if vehicle  registration fees would be  required in                                                               
these five communities.                                                                                                         
MS.  THOMPSON  responded that  there  would  not be  registration                                                               
fees,  but  many  of these  communities  already  have  permanent                                                               
registration  available.   She offered  to provide  the committee                                                               
with information on the estimated loss of revenue.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked  how DMV knows how  many vehicles there                                                               
are if they are unregistered.                                                                                                   
4:11:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  reiterated that many  of the people  in the                                                               
five communities have  regular licenses, and just a  few have the                                                               
off-highway  restricted license,  such as  elders and  people who                                                               
never leave the village.                                                                                                        
[HB 82 was held over.]                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 097 ver A.pdf HSTA 2/28/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 97
HB097 Sponsor Statement ver A 2.23.17.pdf HSTA 2/28/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 97
HB097 Sectional Analysis ver A 2.23.17.pdf HSTA 2/28/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 97
HB097 Fiscal Note DPS 2.25.17.pdf HSTA 2/28/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 97
HB 097 Support Indirect Expenditure Report 2.22.17.pdf HSTA 2/28/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 97
HB 82 Proposed CS ver D 2.28.17.pdf HSTA 2/28/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 82
HB082 Summary of Changes ver A to ver D 2.27.2017.pdf HSTA 2/28/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 82
HB01_Elections_Bill_Support_022717.pdf HSTA 2/28/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 1