Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211
04/06/2009 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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SB 148-LIABILITY FOR TRIBAL ROAD CONSTRUCTION 1:41:39 PM CHAIR FRENCH announced the consideration of SB 148 and asked for a motion to adopt work draft committee substitute (CS), version \E, as the working document. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI moved to adopt work draft CS for SB 148, labeled 26-LS0685\E. There being no objection, version E was before the committee. CHAIR FRENCH explained that the language in the CS is the result of lengthy negotiation between the Department of Law and representatives from the plaintiffs bar in Anchorage. His understanding is that the language is mutually agreeable. He asked Mr. Putzier his perspective. PETER PUTZIER, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, Opinions, Appeals, & Ethics, Department of Law, Anchorage, said he hasn't seen a copy of the CS, but he had agreed to something in principle. CHAIR FRENCH said he would have a copy posted online. In the meantime, he read subsection (d) starting on page 1. 1:44:51 PM MR. PUTZIER said the language differs in some respects to what was agreed upon, but the changes probably will be acceptable. "I will want to look at it more closely, but I think we can proceed on this basis," he added. CHAIR FRENCH agreed that the drafters changed the language in the definition of "independent negligence" but he feels confident that the phrases mean nearly the same thing. MR. PUTZIER said that is his initial impression as well. CHAIR FRENCH suggested that with the possible exception of several words on page 1, line 13, this is a concept everyone can agree to. He noted the letter of support from the Manley Village Council. 1:46:49 PM SENATOR THERRIAULT asked why the phrase "other federal transportation programs or transportation grants designed to benefit tribes" was deleted and what the impact is. MR. PUTZIER explained that the plaintiffs bar expressed concern that the phrase didn't define specific programs or grants. That made it unclear whether the Federal Tort Claims Act would apply under all circumstances and therefore whether there would be a guaranteed ability to sue the tribe under the Act. As a compromise DOL narrowly defined the largest programs and those that are subject to the Federal Tort Claims Act. The impact is that future transportation programs and grants won't be covered so the legislation will probably require amendment to address situations that might arise. SENATOR THERRIAULT said he just wanted it on the record if that is in fact what is anticipated. 1:48:36 PM CHAIR FRENCH, noting that Mr. Putzier now had a copy of the CS, asked him to take a minute to review the language before the committee moves on. SENATOR THERRIAULT observed that the original bill talked about the "catch line,which is a phrase he never heard before, and the CS substituted that phrase with "section heading." CHAIR FRENCH acknowledged that he too is unfamiliar with the phrase and he suspects the legislative drafters made the substitution. SENATOR THERRIAULT asked if all the money comes directly to the tribes or if it flows through the state coffer and is appropriated to the program. 1:50:15 PM DOROTHY SHOCKLEY, Staff to Senator Kookesh, explained that for the most part the money goes directly to the tribes. She noted that she had submitted a list showing the amount of money going to each community as well as the roads in their inventory. SENATOR THERRIAULT asked if the tribal entities apply directly to the IRR Program for the money. MS. SHOCKLEY replied they apply through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). SENATOR THERRIAULT remarked he knows that someone is keeping track of all federal stimulus dollars and he's mindful that there will be a leveling effort. CHAIR FRENCH asked Mr. Putzier if he had further comments on the CS. MR. PUTZIER expressed the view that the final clause is awkward, and he would suggest inserting "due to" before the phrase "the state's approving or accepting" on page 2, line 1. 1:53:07 PM CHAIR FRENCH moved Conceptual Amendment 1. CONCEPTUAL AMENDMENT 1 Page 2, line 1: Insert "due to" before the phrase "the state's approving or accepting" Finding no objection, he announced that Conceptual Amendment 1 is adopted. CHAIR FRENCH expressed small qualms related to the language on page 1, lines 12 and 13. He consulted Mr. Putzier and proposed Amendment 2. AMENDMENT 2 Page 1, line 13: Delete "occurs and" before the phrase "is not due to the state's selection," MR. PUTZIER said it sounds reasonable. CHAIR FRENCH found no objection and announced that Amendment 2 is adopted. 1:55:08 PM CHAIR FRENCH closed public testimony and asked the will of the committee. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI moved to report CS for SB 148, version E as amended, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). There being no objection, CSSB 148(JUD) moved from the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee.