22nd Alaska State Legislature
Opinion and Information from
Senator Alan Austerman



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Interim:
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Kodiak, AK 99615
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Kodiak Daily Mirror
Information and Guest Editorial

For Immediate Release: March 1, 2002
Contact: Senator Alan Austerman at (907) 465-2487

I have joined on as co-sponsor to Senate Bill 313. This legislation would repeal AS 14.40.886 regarding the Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation (AADC). This section reads as follows:

"Approval of projects by legislature. Notwithstanding any other provision of AS 14.40.821 - 14.40.990, a proposed construction project of $1,000,000 or more shall be submitted by the corporation to the legislature for approval at a regular session of the legislature."

By repealing this section, I believe the legislature will gain even more oversight over federal projects slated for AADC. Let me explain to you what happens if this bill is signed into law.

Federal dollars for projects can show up at any time in a calendar year. Since the legislature is only in session for four months out of the year, this has presented some problems for the expenditures of federal dollars for AADC, which is in operation all year long. There have been times in dealing with federal funding where the legislature doesn't even have all of the appropriate back-up material that describes in detail what this money is intended for. After the session is over, as long as that line item appropriation is expended within five years, no further review is necessary by the legislature.

By repealing this section, AADC will still not be able to receive and expend any federal dollars without legislative approval. The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee (LB&A), which meets all year long, will actually have even greater scrutiny over federal money intended for AADC. In addition, the Executive Budget Act (AS 37.07.010 - 37.07.130) has several sections that deal with the responsibilities of the administration and the legislature when it comes to the authorization of federal dollars.

The public would not lose any participation in the funding process by this legislation. By statute, all meetings (including LB&A), whether they are during session or during the interim (8 months out of the year) have to be publicly noticed. Another additional oversight is the AADC Board of Directors. The powers and the responsibilities of the corporation are vested in the board.

This board assures that all federal and state licenses and permits necessary to fulfill the purposes, perform the duties and exercise the powers of the corporation have been satisfied.

As Senator Gene Therriault's sponsor statement spells out, this existing statute is an extra hurdle that applies only to AADC and no other entity receiving federal funds. He further states, "Although this redundancy may have been necessary when AADC was only an idea, the corporation is now up and running and needs added flexibility to respond to its clientele."

I will admit that some of the mistrust and paranoia when it comes to AADC is not unwarranted. A few actions and remarks by AADC in the past have been less than appropriate or forthcoming. I have worked with AADC in the past as an ex-officio of the board and now as the senator representing Kodiak. I think we have come a long way to enhance the communications between AADC, the public and the legislature. I will also continue to strive for more information when it comes to AADC and the National Missile Defense program.

I appreciate the involvement and intense scrutiny that several people and interest groups have given to AADC and more specifically the Kodiak Launch Complex. I believe their participation in the overall planning and environmental process, the construction phases, and now the operational phase, has given all of us all a better-run state corporation.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts on this legislation.

Best regards,

Alan Austerman
Senator District C

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