REPRESENTATIVE MATT CLAMAN

(907) 465-4919 | State Capitol Building, Room 118 | WEBSITE
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Sponsor    Statement

"An Act relating to the liability of an excavator for damaging an underground facility"

House Bill 8 updates Alaska’s statutes relating to an excavator’s liability civil damages and fines for damaging underground utilities.

Under Alaska Statutes 40.30.400-42.30.490, an excavator or driller performing subsurface digging or drilling must notify utilities in the proposed excavation area. Signs near some underground utilities warn people to “Call 811 Before You Dig.” The underground utility operators, in response, are required to promptly provide the locations of utilities in that area.

In Alaska, however, state and federal laws and regulations have created a patchwork of inaccurate information and inconsistent compliance with those laws and regulations. Even with the “Call 811 Before You Dig” signs, some of the information provided by 811 and by utility operators in Alaska is not accurate and some Alaska utilities—particularly several in rural parts of the state—have “opted out” of the 811 program.

On September 1, 2016, the Federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) determined that “Alaska’s excavation damage prevention law is INADEQUATE.” Based on this determination, the federal PHMSA has been exercising enforcement authority in Alaska. The federal PHMSA confirmed its continued enforcement authority on May 18, 2018 when it found, once again, that Alaska’s “excavation damage prevention law is inadequate.”

In addition to notifying 811 before an excavation, excavators are required to confirm and notify any non-subscribing utility operators. Excavators who work near underground utilities face risks—including loss of life and equipment—engaging in their work because of the potential to hit unmarked utilities. The inaccuracy of some of the available information from the 811 system and the non-compliance of some underground utilities increases the risks for excavators and drillers who use their best efforts to comply.

On top of the actual damages that may occur when an excavator—despite their best efforts to determine the location through compliance with AS 42.30.400—unintentionally damages an underground utility, the excavator faces state fines and even greater federal fines of up to $2,000,000. Under current Alaska law, a contractor providing excavation or drilling services may be held liable for civil penalties and civil damages when they damage an unmarked underground utility during an excavation. Even after complying with the statutory requirements and using “all reasonable steps” to locate underground utilities, a contractor who hits an unmarked utility may still face state fines of $50- $1000. When combined with the potential federal fines, these fines are prohibitive and may lead to shuttering these small businesses.

Where an excavator can prove that they have taken all reasonable steps to locate underground utilities, including calling 811 and separately contacting every known underground utility in the area, and nevertheless damages an unmarked underground utility, the excavator should not face potential fines from the State of Alaska.

House Bill 8 inserts language into statute that establishes that if a contractor takes all reasonable steps required under Alaska law and follows the best practices for utility locates in their industry, they may not be held liable for civil penalties and property damages for damaging underground utilities.


 
REPRESENTATIVE MATT CLAMAN

SPONSOR STATEMENTS from Alaska House Majority

"An Act relating to exemptions from mortgage loan originator licensing requirements; and providing for an effective date"

From the office of Representative Wilson


"An Act Relating to Claims Against Protection and Indemnity Insurance Policies of Vessel Owners"

From the office of Representative Ortiz


"An Act relating to residency requirements for public school enrollment for certain children of active duty military members"

From the office of Representative Josephson


"An Act relating to the transfer of the title to a vehicle, including certain manufactured homes and trailers, on the death of the owner; allowing a person to act for the surviving spouse of a decedent to make a demand of the personal representative of the decedent’s estate related to enforcing a liability against real property or an interest in real property transferred at death by a transfer on death deed; and providing for an effective date.”

From the office of Representative Spohnholz


"An Act relating to a workforce enhancement program for health care professionals employed in the state; and providing for an effective date."

From the office of Representative Spohnholz


From the office of Representative Tuck


HB 117 – Municipal regulation of trapping

From the office of Representative Josephson


"An Act Relating to Protective Orders"

From the office of Representative Kopp


Strategically strengthening our laws will reduce Alaska’s sky-high crime rate. This bill will improve public safety by stiffening criminal procedures.

From the office of Representative Josephson


"An Act relating to the Funter Bay marine park unit of the state park system; relating to protection of the social and historical significance of the Unangax cemetery located in Funter Bay and providing for the amendment of the management plan for the Funter Bay marine park unit; and providing for an effective date."

From the office of Representative Hannan


“An Act relating to sentencing for vehicle theft in the first degree.”

From the office of Representative Fields


"An Act relating to the Alaska Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; and relating to the sale of milk, milk products, raw milk, and raw milk products."

From the office of Representative Tarr


"An Act requiring law enforcement agencies to send sexual assault examination kits for testing within six months after collection; and providing for an effective date."

From the office of Representative Tarr


"An Act relating to insurance coverage for contraceptives and related services; and relating to medical assistance coverage for contraceptives and related services."

From the office of Representative Claman


Confining Vehicle Loads

From the office of Representative Tuck


“Toxic-Free Firefighters and Children Act”

From the office of Representative Tarr


“An Act relating to insurance coverage for benefits provided through telehealth; and providing for an effective date.”

From the office of Representative Spohnholz


House Bill 30: The Abigail Caudle Act

From the office of Representative Josephson


Shellfish Enhancement Projects; Hatcheries

From the office of Representative Ortiz


House Bill 44, "Automated Teller Machines: Fees"

From the office of Representative Ortiz


"Establishing May 15th as Hmong American Veterans Day"

From the office of Representative Tarr


"Military Work Experience"

From the office of Representative Story


"An Act establishing the month of February as Black History Month."

From the office of Representative Story


"An Act relating to the liability of an excavator for damaging an underground facility"

From the office of Representative Claman


House Bill 81: An Act prohibiting disposable shopping bags; and providing for an effective date

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 82: Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression

From the office of Representative Josephson


Sponsor Statement for HB 86

From the office of Representative Fields


"An Act extending the liquefied natural gas storage facility tax credit; and providing for an effective date."

From the office of Representative Thompson


From the office of Representative Johnston


From the office of Representative Johnston


"An Act relating to temporary courtesy licenses for certain nonresident professionals; and relating to the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development."

From the office of Representative Tuck


House Bill 96

From the office of Representative Fields


From the office of Representative Edgmon


Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to the duration of regular sessions of the Legislature

From the office of Representative Claman


Constitutional Amendment: Permanent Fund; POMV; Dividend

From the office of Representative Tuck