Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
03/09/2010 03:30 PM Senate COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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HJR 46-SUPPORTING DENALI COMMISSION 3:36:10 PM CHAIR OLSON announced the first order of business to come before the committee was HJR 46. ROB EARL, staff to Representative Herron, sponsor of HJR 46, said the resolution encourages Congress to reauthorize the Denali Commission with adequate funding. HJR 46 also encourages the President and his administration to continue the Denali Commission as an authorized independent federal agency. The Denali Commission is one of seven federal regional commissions serving the challenges of rural America. It has a proven record of service for 10 years but is the only regional commission not presently authorized. Its authorization expired October 1, 2009. HJR 46 will act as a clear statement from the Alaska Legislature to Congress to reauthorize the Denali Commission, enabling the Alaskan delegation to pursue the necessary funding for the commission to invest in rural Alaska. CHAIR OLSON asked how the Denali Commission has continued to operate, and if it has been as effective, since its authorization expired on October 1, 2009. MR. EARL replied that he would defer the question to Mr. Bob Pawlowski. CHAIR OLSON asked if any problems are foreseeable with reauthorization of the Denali Commission. MR. EARL replied that he has heard rumors that reauthorization is likely. CHAIR OLSON asked if HJR 46 has any opposition. MR. EARL answered no, not as far as he knows. BOB PAWLOWSKI, Legislative Liaison, Denali Commission, said the commission is functioning under the appropriations process, allowing it to function as an authorized federal agency for dispersing funds and conducting programs. CHAIR OLSON asked if the commission has the same ability to get the appropriations it has gotten in the past. 3:39:12 PM MR. PAWLOWSKI replied that the commission has not been affected yet but will be challenged in the future. Congress can move the appropriate appropriations to an authorized agency more easily. An agency without authorization is only capable of functioning upon an appropriation. CHAIR OLSON asked why the Denali Commission has been singled out without perpetual reauthorization. MR. PAWLOWSKI said the commission was not included in the bill which included five authorizations. The decision for it not to be brought up for reauthorization remains unclear. SENATOR THOMAS noted that HJR 16 indicates a base appropriation of $11,965,000 and asked if that had been the same amount in recent years. MR. PAWLOWSKI replied that the Obama administration established that amount as the base appropriation for the Denali Commission in 2010 budget and has recommended that amount for the 2011 budget. Previously the base programs were less than $10 million. SENATOR THOMAS commented that the increased amount is good. MR. PAWLOWSKI said the increase recognizes the importance of level funding in a base appropriation. SENATOR THOMAS asked if there is state support for the Denali Commission. MR. PAWLOWSKI replied that the state has not given an appropriation to the Denali Commission recently. He pointed out that Karen Rehfeld [Director, Office of Management Budget (OMB), Office of the Governor] is the state co-chair and plays a key role with staff and projects that the Denali Commission complements. 3:43:04 PM JOEL NIEMEYER, Federal Co-chair, Denali Commission, said staff for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have relayed that Congressman Overstar, chair of the committee, is inclined to support reauthorization of the Denali Commission. HJR 46 from the Alaska Legislature would be helpful for Congressman Young as he works through the process. CHAIR OLSON asked if Mr. Niemeyer anticipated any problems. MR. NIEMEYER replied no; he has not seen anything to suggest the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee was opposed to reauthorization. 3:45:35 PM SENATOR THOMAS commented that the annual productions he has seen should accompany HJR 46. MR. NIEMEYER said Mr. Pawlowski will be working on that. 3:46:24 PM SENATOR THOMAS moved to report HJR 46 from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). There being no objection, the motion carried.