Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/18/2004 03:33 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
           SB 295-EXTEND NAVIGABLE WATERS COMMISSION                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SCOTT OGAN announced SB 295 to be up for consideration.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ZACH   WARWICK,  Staff   to  Senator   Therriault,  sponsor,                                                               
explained that  SB 295 adds  two years to  the life of  the Joint                                                               
Federal   and  State   Navigable  Waters   Commission  that   was                                                               
established in  2002, but  not funded.  The hope  is that  if the                                                               
state  passes   legislation  again,  the  federal   side  of  the                                                               
commission will be funded.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN asked why this bill  is needed since the Department of                                                               
Natural Resources (DNR) legislation asks the same thing.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WARWICK replied  SB 295  is  an attempt  to build  consensus                                                               
between the state  and federal governments on  creating the lists                                                               
and maps.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. RON SOMERVILLE, consultant to  the Senate and House Majority,                                                               
explained:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     It's the  quickest possible  way you  could essentially                                                                    
     identify  those reaches  of  those particular  streams,                                                                    
     which  both  parties  agree are  navigable.  Certainly,                                                                    
     that  then  leaves  the  remainder  to  be  settled  in                                                                    
     court.... The  concept here was  to entice them  to sit                                                                    
     down, because  of the  massive size  of the  state, and                                                                    
     cooperatively identify  them so we could  resolve these                                                                    
     clouded  titles, if  you  will, in  many  areas of  the                                                                    
     state.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN asked what is driving the situation now.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. WARWICK  replied that  the state side  of the  commission was                                                               
passed last year, but wasn't  funded. Current language says seven                                                               
members  are appointed  by the  state, which  would drop  down to                                                               
four upon  federal appointment of  their four members.  The state                                                               
members  could  get  some  groundwork  done  before  the  federal                                                               
members came on board.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON  said if SB  305, which asserts state  ownership of                                                               
certain submerged lands, is adopted,  the state might not want to                                                               
have a commission. Why would the  state want to sit down with the                                                               
feds and negotiate away something it has just asserted?                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. SOMERVILLE answered  that the concept in SB 295  is to try to                                                               
develop  a  mechanism  whereby  the   state  can  have  title  as                                                               
described by Mr.  Mylius. Developing the lists  would happen much                                                               
faster   with  a   commission   rather   than  using   recordable                                                               
disclaimers or by developing a state list.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     It seems  to me that  it's complementary. If  the state                                                                    
     has its list,  it would be submitted  to the commission                                                                    
     for hopefully  ratification by  the combined  state and                                                                    
     federal  representatives. It  would be  similar to  the                                                                    
     Federal  State Land  Use Planning  Commission that  was                                                                    
     created out  of ANCSA [Alaska Native  Claims Settlement                                                                    
     Act].                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON asked if anyone  had actually been appointed in the                                                               
past.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. WARWICK replied that no one had been appointed.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN  remarked that, based  on the fiscal note,  it doesn't                                                               
look  like the  administration intends  to appoint  anybody until                                                               
the  federal government  does and  the  feds aren't  going to  do                                                               
anything until the  state does. The commission  could be extended                                                               
for another two-year stalemate.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SOMERVILLE  said that  Senator  Therriault  thought the  law                                                               
could be kept  on the books and noted that  Senator [Ted] Stevens                                                               
made  some  mention  of  the commission  that  the  Secretary  of                                                               
Interior was  supportive of  at the time.  If Congress  does pass                                                               
something,  this  process would  be  much  quicker than  using  a                                                               
supplemental  appropriation  to   quickly  initiate  the  state's                                                               
portion of the commission.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  ELTON  replied that  he  didn't  dispute that,  but  the                                                               
future cost of  the commission could be out of  the state's hands                                                               
until the feds  enacted their side. He could  envision a scenario                                                               
in which the feds wouldn't pass  a law, but the state would still                                                               
have  to   fund  seven  commissioners   and  not  have   the  BLM                                                               
information it wanted.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN closed public testimony.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS WAGONER  moved to pass SB 295  from committee with                                                               
individual recommendations  and attached fiscal note.  There were                                                               
no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                            

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