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                                                       Calendar No. 247
115th Congress         }                      {              Report
 1st Session           }                      {               115-173

                             OTHER PURPOSES


                October 17, 2017.--Ordered to be printed


           Mr. Hoeven, from the Committee on Indian Affairs, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 825]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Indian Affairs, to which was referred the 
bill (S. 825) to provide for the conveyance of certain property 
to the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium located in 
Sitka, Alaska, and for other purposes, having considered the 
same, reports favorably thereon with an amendment (in the 
nature of a substitute) and recommends that the bill, as 
amended, do pass.


    S. 825 would direct the Secretary of the U.S. Department of 
Health and Human Services (HHS) to convey certain property, 
located in Sitka, Alaska, to the SEARHC. The property transfer 
authorized by this bill would enable the SEARHC to renovate an 
existing hospital and construct new health care facilities in 
order to provide improved health care services to several 
communities in southeast Alaska.


    Founded in 1975, the SEARHC is one of the oldest and 
largest Native-run health organizations in the country. SEARHC 
is a non-profit tribal health consortium that provides health 
services to 18 Native communities, including the Tlingit, 
Haida, and Tsimshian peoples, in Southeast Alaska.
    Following passage of the Indian Self-Determination and 
Education Assistance Act, the SEARHC began contracting with the 
Indian Health Service (IHS) to assume management of the 
Community Health Aide Program, which serves tribes in the area. 
The SEARHC operates Sitka's Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, which 
provides acute care, critical care, obstetrics, surgery, and 
perioperative care to residents of Sitka and other areas of 
Southeast Alaska.
    Mt. Edgecumbe was constructed toward the end of World War 
II by the U.S. Department of War to treat patients with 
tuberculosis. As the oldest hospital in Alaska, it is in need 
of renovations to update its infrastructure and ability to 
provide healthcare services to better serve the community.
    In order to make renovations to the MEH, the SEARHC is 
requesting federal legislation through the enactment of S. 825 
to transfer title by warranty deed of the land and facilities 
where the MEH is located to the SEARHC. The HHS currently holds 
title to the land.

                          NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    The SEARHC intends to use the transferred land located in 
Sitka, Alaska for future health care renovations and expansion. 
Without the conveyance of title by warranty deed, the SEARHC 
will be less likely to secure needed financing to make 
renovations to the MEH and construct new health facilities. The 
land transfer will also provide the SEARHC with more advantage 
and oversight over the property, as described in S. 825, to 
provide better and increased access to health care in Southeast 
    The bill, S. 825, would transfer 19.07 acres of land that 
has been maintained and managed by the SEARHC for more than 20 
years. The land to be conveyed is comprised of several parcels 
of land to be considered for a joint venture project and other 
expansion opportunities.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    On April 4, 2017, Senator Murkowski introduced S. 825, the 
Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act 
of 2017. This bill is similar to three bills that were passed 
by the Committee and signed into law in 2013 and 2015.\1\
    \1\See A bill to provide for the conveyance of certain property to 
the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation located in Bethel, Alaska, Pub. 
L. No. 114-56 (2015); Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land 
Transfer Act, Pub. L. No. 113-68 (2013); To provide for the conveyance 
of certain property from the United States to the Maniilaq Association 
located in Kotzebue, Alaska, Pub. L. No. 112-263 (2013).
    The Committee received testimony from Charles Clement, 
President and CEO of the SEARHC, on S. 825 at a listening 
session held on May 10, 2017. One week later, on May 17, 2017, 
the Committee entered all testimony and materials received at 
the May 10, 2017 listening session into the record, granting 
that testimony the same weight as testimony given at a 
legislative hearing.
    Chris Buchanan, Acting Director of the IHS, submitted 
written testimony for the May 10, 2017 listening session on S. 
825. In that testimony, the Administration stated that it 
supported the conveyance of land described in S. 825, but had 
some concerns with the bill; in particular, IHS expressed 
concern that the language pertaining to the liability and 
reversionary clauses required technical revision, and that the 
bill's deadline for transferring title was too soon. Senator 
Murkowski filed a timely substitute amendment to address these 
    The substitute amendment, ROM17296, submitted by Senator 
Murkowski amends the date of transfer described in Section 3 to 
``not later than 24 months after enactment of the Act;'' the 
original deadline was within 180 days of enactment. This change 
was negotiated by the SEARHC and the IHS to satisfy concerns 
the IHS had about the amount of time needed to complete 
required environmental assessments, remediation, and surveys to 
execute the transfer of title.
    The substitute amendment also addresses IHS' concern 
related to liability for environmental contamination to the 
property following the transfer of title. The amendment adds a 
liability limiting provision to the end of Section 4(a)(1), 
stating), ``the Secretary shall not be liable for any 
contamination which occurred after the date that the Consortium 
controlled, occupied, and used such property.''
    On June 13, 2017, the Committee held a duly called business 
meeting to consider two bills, including S. 825. The Committee 
passed S. 825, as amended, by voice vote and ordered the bill 
to be favorably reported.
    The House companion bill, H.R. 1901, the Southeast Alaska 
Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act of 2017, was 
introduced by Representative Don Young on April 4, 2017. That 
bill was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources 
Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs, 
which held a hearing on the bill on June 7, 2017, and the House 
Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment. 
No further action has been taken on H.R. 1901.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1. Short title

    This section cites the short title of the Act.

Sec. 2. Conveyance of property

    This section directs the Secretary of the HHS to convey all 
right, title, and interest of land described in Section 3 by 
warranty deed to the SEARHC no later than 2 years after the 
date of enactment of the Act. The land will be used in 
connection with health and social services programs.
    The conveyance of this warranty deed shall supersede and 
render of no future effect any quitclaim deed to the property 
described in section 3.
    This section provides that the Secretary of the HHS shall 
not--require any consideration from the SEARHC for the 
property; impose any obligation, term, or conditions on the 
SEARHC; or allow for any reversionary interest of the United 
States in the property.

Sec. 3. Property described

    This section describes the 19.07 acres of property, 
including all land and appurtenances, located in Sitka, Alaska 
that is to be conveyed to the SEARHC from the HHS.

Sec. 4. Environmental liability

    This section provides that the SEARHC shall not be liable 
for any soil, surface water, groundwater, or other 
contamination resulting from the disposal, release, or presence 
of any environmental contamination on any portion of the 
property on or before the date on which the property is 
conveyed to them. In addition, the Secretary of the HHS shall 
not be liable for any contamination that occurred after the 
date on which the SEARHC controlled, occupied, and used the 
property to be conveyed.
    This section further describes that an environmental 
contamination includes any oil or petroleum products, hazardous 
substances, hazardous materials, hazardous waste, pollutants, 
toxic substances, solid waste, or any other environmental 
contamination or hazard as defined in federal or Alaska state 
    The Secretary of the HHS shall be accorded any easement or 
access to the property conveyed under this Act as may be 
reasonably necessary to satisfy any retained obligation or 
liability of the Secretary of the HHS.
    Finally, this section requires the Secretary of the HHS to 
comply with subparagraphs (A) and (B) of section 120(h)(3) of 
the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and 
Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) on the property described.


    The following cost estimate, as provided by the 
Congressional Budget Office, dated September 11, 2017, was 
prepared for S. 825:

                                                September 11, 2017.
Hon. John Hoeven,
Chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 825, the Southeast 
Alaska Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act of 2017.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Robert 
                                                        Keith Hall.

S. 825--Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act 
        of 2017

    S. 825 would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services (HHS) to convey a parcel of land in Sitka, Alaska, to 
the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SARHC). The 
conveyances would be made by a warranty deed, which is a type 
of deed that guarantees a clear title to the new owner of the 
    The Indian Self-Determination and Education Act (ISDEAA) 
allows tribal entities to assume responsibility for providing 
health care services funded by the Indian Health Service (IHS). 
The SARHC is a non-profit health care consortium that operates 
health care facilities under the ISDEAA in 20 communities 
throughout Southeast Alaska. According to IHS, SARHC currently 
does not pay rent or any other remuneration to IHS for the use 
of the land to be transferred. Consequently, CBO estimates that 
enacting S. 825 would not have a significant effect on the 
federal budget.
    Because enacting S. 825 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO estimates 
that enacting the bill would not increase net direct spending 
or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year 
periods beginning in 2028.
    S. 825 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Robert Stewart. 
The estimate was approved by Holly Harvey, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.


    Paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the 
Senate requires each report accompanying a bill to evaluate the 
regulatory and paperwork impact that would be incurred in 
carrying out the bill. The Committee believes that S. 825 will 
have minimal impact on regulatory or paperwork requirements.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The Committee has received no communications from the 
Executive Branch regarding S. 825.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    In accordance with Committee Rules, subsection 12 of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate is waived.