Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 17

03/24/2016 01:00 PM TRANSPORTATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public & Invited Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 230 Out of Committee
           HB 186-RESTRICTED OFF HWY DRIVER'S LICENSE                                                                       
1:09:06 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HUGHES announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL NO. 186,  "An Act relating to vehicle registration;                                                               
relating  to off-road  system  restricted noncommercial  drivers'                                                               
licenses;  relating  to  off-road   system  eligible  areas;  and                                                               
relating to motor vehicle liability insurance."                                                                                 
1:09:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JONATHAN KREISS-TOMKINS,  Alaska State Legislature                                                               
explained  that off-highway  driver's licenses  are something  he                                                               
had no  previous familiarity with;  however, over 1,000  exist in                                                               
rural  Alaska's off-highway  designated communities.   He  stated                                                               
that  there  is  a  certain   category  of  community  where  the                                                               
residents are considered  ineligible, and that HB 186  is a means                                                               
to  rectify  the  situation.     Two  problematic  criteria  are:                                                               
communities connected to the ferry  system are categorized as on-                                                               
highway  communities for  the  purposes  of off-highway  driver's                                                               
license eligibility;  and the Department of  Motor Vehicles (DMV)                                                               
uses  a  traffic  count  of over  499  to  determine  off-highway                                                               
ineligibility.    He  pointed  out that  DMV  has  conducted  few                                                               
traffic  counts in  rural Alaska,  and the  locales where  counts                                                               
have been taken are primarily  communities connected to the ferry                                                               
system.   He stated that  with passage of  HB 186 there  would be                                                               
four   communities  made   eligible   for  off-highway   driver's                                                               
licenses.  He explained that  the proposed legislation would also                                                               
remove the potential  for communities, such as Hooper  Bay, to be                                                               
made ineligible if a traffic count were ever conducted there.                                                                   
1:14:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN clarified that  Hoonah, Kake, Seldovia, and                                                               
Angoon are  the four communities  that would become  eligible for                                                               
off-highway driver's  licenses.   He asked  whether HB  186 would                                                               
change the driver's license application process.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  answered  that the  bill  doesn't                                                               
alter   the  application   process,  it   only  clarifies   which                                                               
communities  are  eligible.    Also,  if  a  person  lives  in  a                                                               
community  that  is presently  ineligible,  he/she  would not  be                                                               
allowed to get an off-highway license.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN  clarified: "If  I  were  in Angoon,  even                                                               
though  it's a  small community,  I  couldn't apply  for an  off-                                                               
highway license, where as if I was in Sand Point, I could."                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  answered that he was  correct, and                                                               
noted,  currently,  there  are   communities  with  ferry  system                                                               
connections that are eligible for off-highway designation.                                                                      
1:16:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  HUGHES  offered  her assumption  that  the  discrepancy                                                               
might be from an infrequency of ferry service.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN offered his  understanding that both Angoon                                                               
and Sand Point have ferry service.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS answered correct.                                                                                 
1:17:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HUGHES  noted that  Sand Point  has less  frequent ferry                                                               
service  than Angoon.    She  inquired about  the  number of  DMV                                                               
offices  located  in  Southeast Alaska,  and  expressed  surprise                                                               
that,  if  the   bill  is  adopted,  there  would   not  be  more                                                               
communities becoming eligible.                                                                                                  
1:18:13 PM                                                                                                                    
BARRET  WILBUR, Staff,  Representative Johnathan  Kreiss-Tomkins,                                                               
Alaska  State  Legislature, explained  that  many  of the  larger                                                               
communities  have  DMV  offices,  including:  Sitka,  Petersburg,                                                               
Ketchikan, Wrangell,  and Prince of  Wales (POW).  She  said that                                                               
many Southeast communities  have driving access to  a DMV office.                                                               
She  noted  that Hoonah,  Angoon,  Seldovia,  and Kake  are  four                                                               
communities that  would be allowed off-highway  designation if HB
186 were  to pass.   She offered  to provide  further information                                                               
regarding which  communities would  be included with  the passage                                                               
of HB 186.                                                                                                                      
1:18:59 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  added  that  a  number  of  small                                                               
Southeast   communities,   including  Port   Alexander,   Tenakee                                                               
Springs, and Pelican,  would not become eligible due  to the lack                                                               
of roads in those locales.                                                                                                      
CO-CHAIR  HUGHES   noted  that   Gustavus  and  Sand   Point  are                                                               
communities with  limited ferry service in  Southeast Alaska, and                                                               
she asked  whether there are any  other non-boardwalk communities                                                               
that  might  become  eligible,  and  directed  attention  to  the                                                               
committee  packet, and  the  alphabetical  list titled,  "Current                                                               
Communities Exempt from Registration  and Insurance, Eligible for                                                               
Off-Highway Restricted  Driver's Licenses,"  2.2.2016   She noted                                                               
that Gustavus  is on the list  even though it has  ferry service,                                                               
and  noted  that  part  of  the criteria  is  whether  or  not  a                                                               
community has access to a DMV office.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  explained that Gustavus is  on the                                                               
list because for many years it did not have ferry service.                                                                      
1:21:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ORTIZ asked  whether or  not there  would be  any                                                               
added  significant  financial   responsibilities  placed  on  the                                                               
Department of Transportation & Public  Facilities (DOTPF), if the                                                               
legislature were to pass HB 186.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS responded no.                                                                                     
1:22:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  HUGHES asked  for further  information on  the specific                                                               
communities, including the number of  paved road miles and posted                                                               
speed  limits.    She  stated  concern  for  public  safety,  and                                                               
speculated about  young driver activity.   She said when  a newly                                                               
licensed 16 year old  gets on the road it is not  too bad if they                                                               
are just going  short distances on unpaved roads.   She explained                                                               
her  concern is  for a  community  with enough  road surface  for                                                               
teenagers to attain dangerous speeds.                                                                                           
1:22:52 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS reported  having visited  the four                                                               
named communities, and said all  are coastal communities, and all                                                               
have  logging road  connections.  He offered  his knowledge  that                                                               
Seldovia has a few miles of  road, Kake and Hoonah have more than                                                               
a few  miles, and Angoon  is restricted because of  its proximity                                                               
to the national  monument.  He offered his  assumption that there                                                               
were   presently  off-highway   eligible  communities   that  had                                                               
significant amounts  of road miles,  such as the  Yukon community                                                               
of Ruby, but said he did not know the exact mileage.                                                                            
CO-CHAIR  HUGHES opined  that  HB  186 would  not  result in  the                                                               
addition of communities which have  a great number of miles, thus                                                               
minimizing  public safety  risks. Further,  the communities  that                                                               
would  become eligible  are comparable  to those  already on  the                                                               
list and could show safe operations under established standards.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS explained  that Angoon,  Kake, and                                                               
Hoonah  were   at  one  point  off-highway   eligible,  but  then                                                               
regulations changed and they became  ineligible.  He said because                                                               
of  the change  a  lot  of people  had  off  highway licenses  in                                                               
communities  that were  no longer  eligible.   Three  communities                                                               
with which  he is most  familiar hold universal support  for this                                                               
change, he  reported, and  said he  suspects there  these locales                                                               
have  some unlicensed  drivers due  to inaccessibility  to a  DMV                                                               
1:26:14 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. WILBUR informed the committee  that the department conducts a                                                               
study semi-annually  and assigns different designations  to every                                                               
community in the state.  The  four named communities all have the                                                               
same  functional classifications  as communities  already on  the                                                               
off-highway eligibility list.                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR HUGHES  inquired as  to why  the regulation  was changed                                                               
and when it was effected;  suggesting that perhaps it was handled                                                               
via departmental regulation.                                                                                                    
MS. WILBUR responded  that the policy has been in  place since at                                                               
least  the  early  1980's;  however,  DMV  did  not  provide  the                                                               
sponsor's office with the start date.                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR HUGHES maintained  her interest in knowing  the year the                                                               
communities were  removed from the  list and what the  reason was                                                               
for the removal.  She offered  her assumption that the change was                                                               
made through  regulation, not by  statute, and asked  why statute                                                               
is being considered now.                                                                                                        
1:29:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  WILBUR  stated  that  the  DMV  does  not  keep  records  of                                                               
communities that  are removed.   Removal  can result  for reasons                                                               
such as establishment  of a local DMV office, or  a traffic count                                                               
resulting in  a number over  the 499  limit.  She  explained that                                                               
the  499 traffic  count  requirement is  in  statute and  governs                                                               
insurance  and  registration   exemptions,  thus,  the  sponsor's                                                               
pursuit to affect change through legislation versus regulation.                                                                 
1:31:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HUGHES clarified that Angoon  may have been removed from                                                               
the off-highway designation list in 2005.                                                                                       
MS. WILBUR stated her understanding that  it has been at least 10                                                               
years since Angoon was on the off-highway eligibility list.                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  HUGHES  inquired as  to  how  the change  would  affect                                                               
insurance rates.                                                                                                                
MS. WILBUR explained that the  294 communities designated as off-                                                               
highway  are currently  exempt from  insurance,  and said  adding                                                               
four more  communities will in  no way affect  insurance policies                                                               
or rates.                                                                                                                       
1:33:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN  stated  his  belief  that  a  Sand  Point                                                               
resident who collides  his truck into his  neighbor's vehicle can                                                               
be remedied  against, but  not through  an insurance  company, as                                                               
Sand Point residents are not required to carry insurance.                                                                       
MS  WILBUR confirmed  that statute  does not  require off-highway                                                               
driver's license holders in off-highway  communities to insure or                                                               
register  their vehicles,  although  many  residents still  carry                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN  summarized   that  if  minimum  insurance                                                               
requirements are  not met,  in the  majority of  areas throughout                                                               
the state, a ticket is issued, but not in Sand Point.                                                                           
CO-CHAIR HUGHES  asked whether  tickets are  being issued  in the                                                               
exempt  communities  citing  residents  for  not  being  licensed                                                               
drivers and not having insurance.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  answered yes.   He said  that over                                                               
the course  of four years, from  2012 to 2015, there  have been a                                                               
total of ten charges filed,  but they were inclusive to municipal                                                               
police  departments.   He  opined  it  is not  with  overwhelming                                                               
frequency that drivers are ticketed and  that it is most likely a                                                               
"look-away situation".                                                                                                          
CO-CHAIR HUGHES opened public testimony on HB 186.                                                                              
1:37:43 PM                                                                                                                    
MANNY  BUDKE stated  that  he  has a  driver's  license which  he                                                               
characterized  as  being "hard-earned."    He  explained that  to                                                               
receive his license, he had to foot  the cost to ferry his car to                                                               
Juneau  and align  the  sailing  date with  a  date  on when  DMV                                                               
offered  road tests,  which  presented  a scheduling  difficulty.                                                               
Additionally, he  had scheduling conflicts with  his parents that                                                               
created further complications and extended  the wait time for him                                                               
to become a licensed driver.   Logistically it was very difficult                                                               
to  get a  driver's  license  living in  a  remote community,  he                                                               
stressed and said  that HB 186 would make it  much easier for new                                                               
drivers to get their licenses.                                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR HUGHES inquired why Sand  Point and Gustavus were on the                                                               
list  under the  current statue  and regulations,  recalling that                                                               
Gustavus lacked  ferry service for  some time and Sand  Point has                                                               
limited service.                                                                                                                
1:40:46 PM                                                                                                                    
AUDREY  O'BRIEN, Manager,  Juneau  Driver  Services, Division  of                                                               
Motor  Vehicles   (DMV),  Department  of   Administration  (DOA),                                                               
offered  her   understanding  that  Sand  Point   is  subject  to                                                               
infrequent  ferry  service  and  a traffic  count  has  not  been                                                               
conducted.   She explained that Gustavus  is on the list  and the                                                               
division  exercises caution  when removing  any communities  that                                                               
have  previously held  off-highway designation.   She  added that                                                               
the traffic  count for  Gustavus is  outdated, last  conducted in                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN   opined  that  this  was   a  useful  and                                                               
interesting  bill,  especially  for  identifying  how  the  state                                                               
determines and handles rural communities.   He asked Ms. Erickson                                                               
for the department's official stance on HB 186.                                                                                 
1:42:28 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  ERICKSON replied  that DMV  supports the  bill because  they                                                               
understand  the   challenges  many  rural  residents   face  when                                                               
obtaining  driver's   licenses.     She  opined   that  mandatory                                                               
insurance,  vehicle registration,  and  off-highway licenses  are                                                               
inextricably  linked and  a conversation  about public  safety in                                                               
relationship to this change, is in order.                                                                                       
1:42:53 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  noted the previous concern  for making his                                                               
a  statutory  versus  regulatory  matter.   He  inquired  whether                                                               
pursuing  this  as  a  regulatory  matter  would  be  problematic                                                               
because of existing statute.                                                                                                    
MS. ERICKSON  responded, "Yes," and  said DMV  regulations relate                                                               
to  the  off-highway  restriction, but  mandatory  insurance  and                                                               
vehicle registration reside in statute.                                                                                         
1:43:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  HUGHES announced  that HB  186 would  be held  over and                                                               
public testimony would remain open.                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 186 Sponsor Statement.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB186 version H.PDF HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB 186 Fiscal Note DOA-DMV-3-22-16.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB 186 Sectional Analysis.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB 186 Supporting Document Community List 2-1-2016.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB 186 Supporting Document Email Amy Erickson 5-6-2015.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB 186 Supporting Document Letter Angie Larsen 11-14-2015.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB 186 Supporting Document Letter Angoon 1-26-2015.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB 186 Supporting Document Letter Kake 1-26-2015.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB 186 Supporting Document Letter Hoonah 1-26-2015.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB 186 Supporting Document Letter SEC 1-26-2015.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB 186 Supporting Documents Research Report 2-1-2016.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB 186 Supporting Documents Webpage Guide to Rural Driving Information 2-1-2016.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 186
HB230-DOT-NHRA-3-24-2016.pdf HTRA 3/24/2016 1:00:00 PM
HB 230