Legislature(2003 - 2004)
02/18/2004 03:33 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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.