Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/19/2003 08:46 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
     SENATE CS FOR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 251(TRA)                                                                               
     "An Act relating to exemption of certain foreign pleasure                                                                  
     craft from the mandatory pilotage requirement and to civil                                                                 
     fines imposed on the owner or operator of a pleasure craft                                                                 
     of foreign registry; and providing for an effective date."                                                                 
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Co-Chair  Wilken  explained  that  this  legislation   would  exempt                                                            
foreign pleasure craft,  measuring 65 feet or less, from the State's                                                            
mandatory marine  pilotage requirements.  In addition, he  specified                                                            
that foreign  pleasure  craft measuring  66 feet  to 175 feet  could                                                            
apply for an exemption from the requirement.                                                                                    
REX SHATTUCK,  Staff to Representative  Nancy Dahlstrom,  the bill's                                                            
sponsor,  explained  that  this  legislation  would  allow  for  the                                                            
imposition of civil fines  for violation of the Marine Pilotage Act;                                                            
would exempt  foreign  pleasure craft  of 65 feet  or less from  the                                                            
pilotage requirements;  would institute an application fee structure                                                            
for  vessels measuring  between  66  and 175  feet applying  for  an                                                            
exemption from  the pilotage requirements; would mandate  the use of                                                            
an Alaskan licensed  marine pilot for yachts exceeding  125 feet but                                                            
less than  175 feet  in overall  length on their  initial voyage  in                                                            
State  waters;  and  would  establish  a  process   whereby  foreign                                                            
pleasure craft  vessels measuring between 66 feet  to 125 feet could                                                            
hire  a  licensed  Alaskan  agent.   In addition,   he  stated  that                                                            
provisions are included  that specifically address the definition of                                                            
"for hire"  and "pleasure  craft." He stated  that this legislation                                                             
was prompted  by a recommendation  from the  Legislative Budget  and                                                            
Audit  Committee  audit (#08-20015-02  November  1,  2002)[copy  not                                                            
Senator Taylor  asked for clarification  that existing law  is based                                                            
on gross tonnage  as opposed to overall  vessel length as  specified                                                            
in this legislation.                                                                                                            
Mr. Shattuck  concurred  that  the change  "is a  shift" from  gross                                                            
tonnage  to  overall length  "as  length  is  an easier  measure  to                                                            
Co-Chair  Wilken  clarified  that  the  version of  the  bill  being                                                            
considered  by the  Committee  is SCS CS  HB 251(TRA),  Version  23-                                                            
Senator Taylor  understood that a  foreign vessel measuring  65 feet                                                            
or less  would be  exempt from the  requirement  to have a  licensed                                                            
Alaska marine pilot onboard in Alaskan waters.                                                                                  
Mr. Shattuck concurred.                                                                                                         
Senator Taylor  asked for details pertaining to the  vessel pilotage                                                            
waiver application for vessels exceeding 65 feet.                                                                               
Mr. Shattuck explained  that vessels exceeding 65 feet but measuring                                                            
less than 125 feet in overall  length could apply for a waiver to be                                                            
exempted from  the marine pilot requirement. He specified  that were                                                            
an  exemption granted,  the  vessel  would be  required  to hire  an                                                            
Alaskan licensed  agent to provide information as  determined by the                                                            
Board of Marine Pilots.  He continued that, in addition to acquiring                                                            
a waiver and hiring  an agent, vessels exceeding 125  feet but being                                                            
less than 175  feet in overall length  would be required  to hire an                                                            
Alaskan licensed marine pilot to initially enter Alaskan waters.                                                                
Senator Hoffman asked for  an explanation regarding the inclusion of                                                            
language in  Sec. 4, on page 3, lines  17 - 21. This language  reads                                                            
as follows.                                                                                                                     
     The exemption must  remain on the vessel while the vessel is in                                                            
     state  water. An exemption  issued under  this subsection  does                                                            
     not  exempt a  vessel for  the requirement  to  employ a  pilot                                                            
     licensed  under this  chapter while the  vessel is in  Wrangell                                                            
     Narrows  or in the water between  Chatham Strait and  Sitka via                                                            
     Peril Strait.                                                                                                              
Mr. Shattuck replied that  these areas have been identified as areas                                                            
wherein a marine  pilot would still  be required, regardless  of any                                                            
provisions that might be implemented in the bill.                                                                               
Co-Chair Wilken clarified  that vessels larger than 65 feet would be                                                            
required to hire a Marine  pilot to transverse those specific areas.                                                            
Mr. Shattuck concurred.                                                                                                         
Senator  B. Stevens  stated  that, were  this  legislation  adopted,                                                            
transitional   language  would  be  necessary  to  provide   vessels                                                            
sufficient  time to  apply for the  waiver this  year. He  specified                                                            
that  an amendment  would be  required  to address  the timeline  as                                                            
specified in Section  4 on page 3, lines 7 through  12 that reads as                                                            
     The  application  for an  exemption must  be  submitted to  the                                                            
     board at least 30  days before the vessel enters the state. The                                                            
     Board  shall approve or deny  an application for the  exemption                                                            
     within  10 working days  after the application  is received  by                                                            
     the Board.                                                                                                                 
Mr. Shattuck  stated  that he must  confer with  the bill's  sponsor                                                            
before  he   could  not  comment   on  an  amendment.  However,   he                                                            
acknowledged Senator  B. Stevens' concern that implementation  might                                                            
be problematic this year.                                                                                                       
Senator Taylor  asked how  existing law would  be affected  were the                                                            
effective date of the legislation postponed.                                                                                    
Senator  B.  Stevens clarified  that  existing  law  specifies  that                                                            
vessels exceeding  300 gross tons,  or approximately 65 feet,  would                                                            
be required to have a marine  pilot onboard while in Alaskan waters.                                                            
Senator Taylor understood  that a pilot would be required until this                                                            
legislation went into affect.                                                                                                   
Senator  B. Stevens  argued  that, were  transitional  language  not                                                            
provided in this legislation,  vessels would be required to abide by                                                            
status quo regulations for the entire summer season of 2003.                                                                    
Senator Taylor  asked the  entities that would  be affected  by this                                                            
Senator B. Stevens  stated that in addition to large  yachts, vessel                                                            
provision suppliers would be affected.                                                                                          
Senator  Taylor declared  that  pilots are  required  on vessels  to                                                            
ensure that vessel transit  is safe. He assumed that the majority of                                                            
these vessels  are private pleasure craft and are  not for hire, and                                                            
therefore,  he questioned the necessity  of this legislation,  as he                                                            
noted, separate  legislation has been  adopted that exempts  private                                                            
vessels from  liability for its passengers.  He asserted  therefore,                                                            
that this legislation is not necessary.                                                                                         
Co-Chair  Wilken asked  regarding  the United  States Coast  Guard's                                                            
(USCG) position on this legislation.                                                                                            
Mr. Shattuck stated that  currently the USCG is issuing "no opinion"                                                            
regarding this legislation.                                                                                                     
Co-Chair  Wilken mentioned  that the  legislation  is modeled  after                                                            
current State of Washington regulations.                                                                                        
Mr. Shattuck  concurred, although  he mentioned that one  difference                                                            
is that  the State  of Washington  has a traffic  control system  in                                                            
place  in  the  Puget  Sound  area,  whereas,   none  are  currently                                                            
specified  for  Alaskan waterways.  He  continued  that  an area  of                                                            
concern  that  has  been  discussed  but is  not  addressed  in  the                                                            
legislation  is how  the State  would  monitor vessel  location  and                                                            
determine the  number of vessels that  might be in State  waters. He                                                            
stated that  estimates in  the legislation  regarding the number  of                                                            
vessels  that  might transit  Alaskan  waters  are based  on  vessel                                                            
numbers  in the State  of Washington  as well  as on inquiries  from                                                            
vessels that the State has received.                                                                                            
Co-Chair  Wilken   asked  for  further  information   regarding  the                                                            
requirement that a vessel  measuring between 65 feet and 125 feet or                                                            
175 feet  must have  a marine  pilot on  board from  its entry  into                                                            
Alaskan waters to its first port of call.                                                                                       
Mr. Shattuck  clarified  that vessels  ranging from  65 feet  to 125                                                            
feet in  overall length must  hire an Alaskan  agent to arrange  the                                                            
particulars  of their trip and that  a vessel measuring 126  feet to                                                            
175 feet must hire a marine pilot.                                                                                              
Co-Chair Wilken  asked the marine  pilotage requirement for  vessels                                                            
ranging from 65 feet to 125 feet.                                                                                               
Mr. Shattuck  responded that  rather than being  required to  hire a                                                            
marine pilot,  those vessels  would be required  to hire an  Alaskan                                                            
agent  who  would  arrange for  obtaining  their  waiver  and  would                                                            
provide  the vessel  with  information  established  for entry  into                                                            
Alaskan waters.                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Wilken asked whether  the agent would be retained until the                                                            
vessel's first port of call.                                                                                                    
Mr. Shattuck  clarified  that the  agent would be  retained for  the                                                            
vessel's complete journey.                                                                                                      
Amendment #1: This amendment  inserts a new section into the bill on                                                            
page 4, line 11 as follows.                                                                                                     
     The  requirement in AS  08.62.180(b),  enacted in Section  4 of                                                            
     this Act,  that an application for exemption  be filed at least                                                            
     30 days before the  vessel enters the state does not apply to a                                                            
     vessel  entering   the  state  less  than  30  days  after  the                                                            
     effective date of this Act.                                                                                                
Senator B. Stevens moved  to adopt Amendment #1. He stated that this                                                            
transitional language would be identified as Section 5.                                                                         
Co-Chair Wilken objected for discussion.                                                                                        
Senator B.  Stevens explained that,  were this legislation  adopted,                                                            
this language  would  provide a  30-day transition  period to  allow                                                            
vessels that are traveling  to or in Alaska for the summer season to                                                            
apply for the waiver.                                                                                                           
Co-Chair Wilken  expressed that this  amendment would be  limited to                                                            
the initial stage of the legislation.                                                                                           
Senator B.  Stevens concurred.  He reminded  the Committee  that the                                                            
original  marine pilotage  legislation  was enacted  numerous  years                                                            
earlier to  specifically require  a marine  pilot to be onboard  the                                                            
Greenpeace  vessel,  the  Rainbow  Warrior, during  its  transit  in                                                            
Alaskan waters. He noted  that in response to the increase in large,                                                            
private yacht  traffic in the State, this legislation  is an attempt                                                            
to update the  original requirements. He stated that  this is a good                                                            
"compromise"  to address the concerns  of the pilots, the  USCG, and                                                            
other affected  parties. He urged members to support  his amendment.                                                            
Senator Taylor asked whether  the amendment would require vessels to                                                            
abide  by existing  regulations  or would  exempt  vessels from  all                                                            
requirements during the 30-day transition period.                                                                               
KATE TESAR, Representative,  Alaska Yacht Services and Provisioning,                                                            
commented that  the amendment would  allow those vessels  in transit                                                            
at the time the  legislation takes effect to be exempt  from the 30-                                                            
day prior-to-trip  waiver application  requirement. She stated  that                                                            
the inclusion  of language in the  bill that specifies that  vessels                                                            
transiting  certain waterways,  such as the  Wrangell Narrows,  must                                                            
have  a licensed  marine  pilot onboard,  addresses  marine  pilots'                                                            
concerns regarding the easing of pilotage requirements.                                                                         
Mr. Shattuck  opined that  the amendment  would address the  concern                                                            
regarding the effective date of the bill.                                                                                       
Co-Chair Wilken removed his objection.                                                                                          
There being no further objection, Amendment #1 was ADOPTED.                                                                     
Co-Chair  Green   asked  whether  the  committee  substitute   being                                                            
considered would  reduce the revenue estimates in  the Department of                                                            
Revenue's accompanying fiscal note.                                                                                             
Mr. Shattuck  responded  that the  Department's  revenue  estimation                                                            
would  not be significantly  impacted  because the  exact number  of                                                            
vessels that  would be affected by  this legislation is unknown.  He                                                            
communicated that more  reliable numbers would be provided following                                                            
the bill's first year of enactment.                                                                                             
Co-Chair Wilken  noted that numerous  communities have expressed  an                                                            
interest in this  legislation. He stated that, provided  the outcome                                                            
of this legislation proves  to be safe and environmentally sound, it                                                            
would  be interesting  to receive  feedback from  communities  as to                                                            
whether this  legislation provided  a benefit to them as  opposed to                                                            
the  State "taking  this risk  with  no benefit."  Additionally,  he                                                            
noted that  ship provisioners should  benefit from the legislation.                                                             
He encouraged  the bill's sponsor to develop methodology  to monitor                                                            
the outcome of the legislation.                                                                                                 
Mr.  Shattuck   communicated  that   Representative  Dahlstrom   has                                                            
expressed  an  interest  in  developing  methodology  to  study  the                                                            
affects of  the legislation. He attested  that a major goal  of this                                                            
legislation would be to  provide economic benefits to communities in                                                            
Southeast Alaska.                                                                                                               
Senator Taylor moved to  report the bill, as amended, from Committee                                                            
with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal note.                                                                   
There  being no  objection, SCS  CS HB  251(FIN)  was REPORTED  from                                                            
Committee with  a new zero fiscal note, dated May  19, 2003 from the                                                            
Department of Community and Economic Development.                                                                               

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