Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205
03/31/2016 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS
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SB 144-RELOCATION ASSISTANCE FOR FED. PROJ/PROG 9:02:13 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced the consideration of SB 144. He noted that the bill was previously heard in committee. He asked Heather Fair from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT) if she recalled the questions posed to her regarding issues from past DOT projects. 9:02:30 AM HEATHER FAIR, State Right-of-Way Chief, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT), Juneau, Alaska, noted that DOT had submitted a response letter to the committee's questions that were posed on March 17. She noted that the committee asked numerous questions regarding historical right-of-way acquisitions that may have impacted Alaskan families and businesses. She detailed that some of the information was specific to relocations in the Eagle River area [circa late 1980s]. She noted that SB 144 focuses on relocation assistance rather than acquisition. She summarized that some of the challenges DOT faced were due to changing economic times. CHAIR STOLTZE said the question posed to DOT was an example that occurred during the state's last major economic downturn. He said he was not trying to say that the state was going to have a downturn, but admitted that a lot of the indicators signal the possibility. He explained that there was a major federally- funded state-participatory project in Eagle River at a time when there was an economic downturn. The majority of property owners had negative equity in their property and DOT was innovative in trying to assist them. Many of the property owners were relocated to other economically distressed, but physically sound homes. He specified that the ability to relocate to other homes was a mechanism that helped. He opined that the example he posed was a dynamic that could possibly occur again due to a right-of- way acquisition through eminent domain. He asked Ms. Fair if he had left anything out from the Eagle River situation. 9:04:45 AM MS. FAIR answered no. She said she believed that Chair Stoltze covered the situation well. CHAIR STOLTZE noted that the committee asked DOT about the Alano Club. He detailed that the Alano Club was a civic organization that was involuntarily moved and the club found themselves in a similar situation regarding the cost of a new building. He noted that the Alano Club had taken pride in eschewing all government funding. He asked Ms. Fair if she could share additional information on the Alano Club. MS. FAIR explained that DOT did not have specific information on the Alano Club due to the length of time that passed. She concurred that the Alano Club was a community organization that needed to be relocated due to a project. She pointed out that the Alano Club was an example that dealt mostly with an acquisition at a price differential between what was paid for their property and an acceptable substitute property that they could acquire. She pointed out that SB 144 assists in price differentials and the new federal rules provide for a larger differential between what was paid for the property that DOT acquires and the new piece of property the owner acquires. She reiterated that DOT was asking for the state to authorize DOT to pay the higher maximums to Alaskan families and businesses. CHAIR STOLTZE explained that Alano Club was ultimately made whole through assistance in the capital budget rather than from DOT. He asked Ms. Fair to verify that SB 144 has the mechanics to assist on a relocation. 9:06:46 AM MS. FAIR answered correct. She detailed that DOT has new maximums and more available agreements with its funding partners. She said DOT tries to find innovative ways to get federal participation for higher unexpected amounts. She summarized that DOT works on a case-by-case basis in addition to working closely with its funding partners to assist so that no one is in a worse position due to involuntarily relocation. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI noted that Section 6 in SB 144 makes the act retroactive to October 1, 2014. He asked how much the retroactive act would cost the state and who would be the recipients of any retroactive payments. MS. FAIR concurred that SB 144 has a retroactivity provision. She explained that only a handful of affected parties to date would be eligible for potentially higher amounts based on the new maximums. She detailed that the state's share for the retroactive payments were estimated to be about $12,000. She summarized that very few folks have come into retroactive eligibility. 9:08:40 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if the October 1, 2014 retroactive date was tied to a federal statute. MS. FAIR answered yes. CHAIR STOLTZE noted that the federal government's fiscal year starts on October 1. MS. FAIR answered correct. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked how many individuals would receive the $12,000. MS. FAIR replied that the retroactive provision effects more than one party, but she did not know the exact number. CHAIR STOLTZE remarked that tying in real-life circumstances makes a piece of legislation like SB 144 more relevant. He admitted that he hates to talk about economic depressions and people being "upside down." He thanked DOT for their indulgence and patience with the committee in fleshing out the legislation. He summarized that no changes were made to the bill and the committee thoroughly discussed the fiscal note. 9:10:16 AM SENATOR COGHILL moved to report SB 144, [29-GS2709\A], from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. 9:10:25 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced that without objection, SB 144 moves from committee.