Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/01/1996 03:38 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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         CSHJR 60(RES) RS 2477 HIGHWAY RIGHTS OF WAY                         
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN  brought CSHJR 60(RES) before the committee as the            
 next order of business.                                                       
                                                                               
  WALT WILCOX , staff to Representative Jeannette James who chairs the         
 House State Affairs committee, explained RS 2477 relates to a                 
 federal law that provides for rights-of-way for construction of               
 highways over public lands that are not reserved for public use.              
 In 1976 Congress repealed the RS 2477 but reserved existing rights-           
 of-way created under the statute.  The U.S. Department of Interior            
 is attempting to administratively rescind the long standing and               
 widely accepted interpretation of RS 2477 by adopting regulations             
 restrictively defining key statutory terms contrary to the intent             
 of Congress and virtually eliminating RS 2477 rights-of-way in the            
 state of Alaska.  He noted legislation has been introduced in                 
 Congress to preserve the long-standing judicial and executive                 
 interpretations of the RS 2477 and to protect existing rights-of-             
 way previously granted by the federal government.  HJR 60 supports            
 passage of the legislation being considered by Congress.                      
                                                                               
 Referring to the further resolved clause in the resolution, Mr.               
 Wilcox said it is the sponsor's understanding that perhaps 10 years           
 would be a better idea than using a reasonable period for the                 
 assertion, recognition, and determination of the existence of RS              
 2477 rights-of-way.                                                           
                                                                               
 Mr. Wilcox also pointed out this only relates to public lands, not            
 Native claims or private lands.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 115                                                                    
                                                                               
  SENATOR LINCOLN  noted the Tyonek Native Corporation has written a           
 letter relating to their concern about the RS 2477 crossing through           
 an old village cemetery site.   CHAIRMAN LEMAN  said he has read the          
 letter and understands the concern.  He pointed out the RS 2477               
 says that state law will determine how this is to be implemented,             
 so it is really a matter of state law, not of federal law.  He                
 added that in that particular situation, without prejudging all the           
 merits of it, he would guess that if it is as stated by the Tyonek            
 Native Corporation, the state would conclude that it would not want           
 to assert that right, and if there is need for an access, it would            
 do it a different way.                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 190                                                                    
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN  referred to the resolve clause on page 3, lines 8 &          
 9, which is asking for a reasonable period of time and a process              
 for making these assertions.  He suggested amending it to insert 10           
 years to be consistent with testimony that has already been offered           
 before Congress.   MR. WILCOX  voiced Representative James'                   
 endorsement of the amendment.                                                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  SENATOR FRANK  moved that on page 3, line 9, delete the word                 
 "reasonable" and insert "10-year" in its place.  Hearing no                   
 objection, the Chairman stated the amendment was adopted and would            
 be incorporated into a Resources SCS.                                         
                                                                               
                                                                               
  BILL PERHACH , representing the Alaska Environmental Lobby, read             
 into the record their position paper in opposition to CSHJR                   
 60(RES).                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 380                                                                    
                                                                               
  SENATOR PEARCE  moved SCS CSHJR 60(RES) and the zero fiscal note be          
 passed out of committee with individual recommendations.  Hearing             
 no objection, it was so ordered.                                              

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