Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/21/1995 01:15 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HJR 42- WATER CARRIERS SERVING ALASKA                                       
 Number 014                                                                    
 GORDON EVANS, Lobbyist, Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE)                    
 explained TOTE provides services from the port of Anchorage, Alaska           
 to the port of Tacoma, Washington.  Between TOTE and Sea-Land, they           
 bring in the majority of the products that are used in Alaska,                
 particularly the Interior of Alaska.  TOTE supports HJR 42.  Mr.              
 Evans stated it was his belief that HJR 42 was self-explanatory.              
 He felt it would be a serious mistake for Congress to repeal all              
 regulations of the Alaska water trade.  He referred to a bill                 
 currently under consideration in Congress which would repeal                  
 regulations, not only the Alaska water trade, but in Hawaii and               
 Puerto Rico, as well.  These are the only three areas that are                
 currently regulated.  He explained that the legislative bodies of             
 these areas are being asked to ensure that an amendment is added to           
 the bill in Congress allowing the people in the Interstate Commerce           
 Commission (ICC) who are currently responsible for the regulating,            
 that they and their duties would be transferred to the Department             
 of Transportation (DOT).  He explained it was to companies, such as           
 TOTE and Sea-Land's, advantage to be regulated.  One reason is the            
 potential problems with anti-trust issues, or if an oligopoly,                
 where there are several carriers serving a particular trade, the              
 carriers could get together and raise rates and there would be no             
 one to oversee them.  TOTE feels as long as there is someone                  
 regulating the traffic, there is no potential of someone to                   
 institute new or higher tariffs and gouge the shippers involved.              
 Mr. Evans said they have discussed this with Alaska's Congressional           
 Delegation.  They have indicated they would support this amendment            
 in Congress, if they could show there was sufficient support in the           
 state for it.                                                                 
 MR. EVANS indicated the committee members should have in their bill           
 packets, numerous letters of support from various companies, the              
 municipality of Anchorage, the Alaska Railroad Corporation,                   
 Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and others.  Mr. Evans indicated that           
 Congressman Don Young was in Anchorage recently and met with the              
 representatives of TOTE and the Alaska Truckers Association.                  
 Congressman Young indicated he was pleased with the letters and               
 planned to push the amendment in Congress.  Mr. Evans said the                
 current problem is in timing and the mark-up in Congress is                   
 scheduled for around May 6, 1995; the first initial adjournment               
 date for this year's Alaska Legislative session.  He asked if there           
 were any questions.                                                           
 Number 105                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS stated for the record that Representative Eileen               
 MacLean arrived at 1:17 p.m.                                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE BEVERLY MASEK said she was in support of getting the           
 federal government out of the state's affairs and supported HJR 42.           
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS said he would take testimony via teleconference from           
 Mr. Frank Dillion in Anchorage.                                               
 Number 107                                                                    
 FRANK DILLION, Executive Director of Alaska Trucking Association,             
 stated they were large customers of the steamship industry.  They             
 handle the deliveries of the majority of freight that travels                 
 through the railbelt of Alaska.  The Alaska trucking industry                 
 supports HJR 42 and requests that it be promptly moved forward to             
 the floor.  Mr. Dillion attended a meeting with Congressman Young             
 and a TOTE representative and Congressman Young indicated that he             
 has already drafted a letter to Chairman Shuster who has                      
 jurisdiction in Congress on this particular issue.  This letter               
 supported the continued oversight at the DOT of the Alaska water              
 trade steamship (indisc.).  He explained the oversight provides               
 stability in the market place.  This is an extremely important                
 issue for the businesses in Alaska to understand what the shipping            
 costs will be.  He emphasized the importance of having stable and             
 dependable services.  He added there was no question regarding the            
 dependability of TOTE and Sea-Land services.                                  
 MR. DILLION continued to explain even in difficult situations, well           
 beyond their control such as labor difficulties, they have                    
 maintained ships in operation and freight moving to Alaska.  He               
 indicated the stability should be maintained, and there should be             
 a mechanism to prevent a situation where they may be treated                  
 unjustly and they have someone who can arbitrate or at least                  
 enforce TOTE and Sea-Land to justify the rates they are proposing.            
 He did not feel that "unbridled" competition in this particular               
 type of market would be in the best interest of anyone in Alaska.             
 He expressed concern that not only would prices go too high, but              
 conversely, of prices going too low.  He said a good example of               
 what happens to a transportation entity when it does not price                
 itself compensatorily is the Mark Air situation.  Simply by having            
 market share and giving the customers and the shipping public a               
 break, does not necessarily make for a good transportation system.            
 He stated they would be afraid to see other steamship lines move              
 into the market for a short term benefit, using a ship that might             
 not be allowed elsewhere and hauling freight at a cut rate deal,              
 establishing that pattern for awhile and then disappearing.  He               
 reiterated his eagerness on passing HJR 42.  He asked if there were           
 any questions.                                                                
 Number 160                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS said a number of these resolutions have been                   
 scrutinized closely when reaching the floor, and he wanted to                 
 review some of the details in this particular resolution.  Chairman           
 Davis referred to line 9, page 1, stating "Whereas the citizens of            
 the State of Alaska have expressed their desire to preserve tariff            
 filing and the other essential elements..." and expressed concern             
 regarding the letters of support that were drafted by groups and              
 companies.  He inquired as to the ways to defend the argument that            
 where have the citizens of the state of Alaska expressed their                
 Number 172                                                                    
 MR. DILLION interjected and reminded the committee of the fact that           
 there are thousands of employees who work for those organizations,            
 and they are all citizens.  At times, we defer to the judgment that           
 people who we work for or elect make the decisions that, hopefully,           
 are in the best interest of the majority of people.  He did not               
 feel this was the type of issue that you are going to see the rank            
 and file person off the street take much interest in.  People are             
 interested in the prices they pay and the dependability of service.           
 He felt this serves well the interests of all the citizens of                 
 Alaska that have continued oversight on this particular area of               
 Number 184                                                                    
 MR. EVANS referred to the letters of support which included such              
 entities as the municipality of Anchorage, the Alaska Railroad                
 Corporation, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, the General Teamsters             
 Local Union, and the Anchorage Independent Longshoreman's                     
 Association and stated they were all consumers as well as groups.             
 He indicated it will come out of their pockets in the end of what             
 they pay at the local stores.  He referred to Alaska Matanuska Maid           
 Dairy, Alaska Fish and Farm products and others.  He agreed with              
 Mr. Dillon's comments.                                                        
 MR. DILLION added due to the fact that TOTE and Sea-Land are                  
 intensely competitive, they want someone watching over them so                
 someone does not make an error in judgment that would impose costs            
 to the state or hurt themselves.  He indicated the reason that TOTE           
 and Sea-Land want someone to continue to look over their shoulder             
 is to make sure someone is looking over the other guy's shoulder.             
 He felt this might explain some of the motivation for the support             
 behind this particular issue.                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES asked Chairman Davis if he was                 
 interested in a motion to move HJR 42 out of committee.                       
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS said yes.                                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES moved to pass HJR 42 out of the House                    
 Transportation Committee.                                                     
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if there was objection.  Hearing none, HJR 42            
 was passed out of the House Transportation Committee.                         

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