Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/09/2004 09:02 AM FSH

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 34-FED TRAINING AND ASSISTANCE FOR FISHERMEN                                                                              
Number 0042                                                                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  JOINT  RESOLUTION NO.  34,  Requesting  the United  States                                                               
Department  of Agriculture  and the  United States  Department of                                                               
Labor to  extend Trade Adjustment  Assistance benefits  to Alaska                                                               
fishermen; requesting  the United States Congress  and the United                                                               
States Department  of Agriculture  to extend  additional disaster                                                               
and  price  support  benefits to  Alaska  salmon  fishermen;  and                                                               
requesting  the  United  States   Department  of  Agriculture  to                                                               
establish terminal markets in Alaska  for all covered commodities                                                               
including   salmon.      [The   resolution   was   sponsored   by                                                               
Representative  Ogg by  request of  the Joint  Legislative Salmon                                                               
Industry Task Force.]                                                                                                           
Number 0108                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  OGG   moved  to  adopt  the   proposed  committee                                                               
substitute  (CS), Version  23-LS1408\S, Utermohle,  2/3/04, as  a                                                               
work draft.  [No objection was  stated, and Version S was treated                                                               
as adopted.]                                                                                                                    
Number 0180                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  OGG moved  [to  adopt Amendment  1],  on page  3,                                                               
line 9,  to delete  "salmon".   He  said it  was a  typographical                                                               
CHAIR SEATON  asked about the  effect of  removing it on  page 3,                                                               
but not in the title [page 1, line 6].                                                                                          
Number 0235                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE OGG  said he'd  amend Amendment  1 to  also delete                                                               
"salmon" from  [page 1, line  6, in  the title].   The "Resolved"                                                               
section was  to expand the  resolution to include  all commercial                                                               
fishermen;  the first  part addresses  just the  salmon industry.                                                               
He explained  that he was  trying to  get the U.S.  Department of                                                               
Commerce to  establish a Trade Adjustment  Assistance program for                                                               
commercial fishermen across  the spectrum, as seen  in the fourth                                                               
"Resolved" [page 3, lines 7-9].                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE OGG  said he'd remove  his original  [Amendment 1]                                                               
and restate it as follows:                                                                                                      
     Page 1, line 6                                                                                                             
     Delete the word "salmon"                                                                                                   
     Page 3, line 9                                                                                                             
     Delete the word "salmon"                                                                                                   
Number 0369                                                                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON  asked if there  was any objection to  adopting [the                                                               
new] Amendment 1.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                 
Number 0413                                                                                                                     
MELISSA  DOVER, Staff  to Representative  Dan  Ogg, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, explained  the changes to Version  S.  On page  2 of                                                               
the  original resolution,  lines 17-19  were deleted  because the                                                               
coordinating  "Resolved" statement  had been  previously removed,                                                               
and [lines 17-19]  were accidentally left in, she said.   On page                                                               
2  [of  the  original  resolution],  line  24,  after  the  first                                                               
"years",  she  said  the  words   "due  to  import-related  price                                                               
fluctuations" were  added.  And  [on page  2, line 24]  after the                                                               
[second]  "years", the  words "due  to loss  of market  caused by                                                               
import-related price fluctuations" were added.                                                                                  
MS.  DOVER,  in  response  to   a  question  from  Chair  Seaton,                                                               
clarified that the changes in Version  S were on page 2, lines 21                                                               
and  22;  those   changes  were  made  to   make  [the  language]                                                               
specifically related to imports.                                                                                                
Number 0625                                                                                                                     
MS. DOVER said  in the original resolution, on page  3, lines 7-9                                                               
were deleted.   She  said it  ended up  being a  very complicated                                                               
issue when it was discovered  that it was impossible to establish                                                               
terminal markets in Alaska.                                                                                                     
Number 0679                                                                                                                     
MS. DOVER  pointed out  that in  Version S on  page 3,  lines 7-9                                                               
were  added  to request  that  the  U.S. Department  of  Commerce                                                               
pursue the establishment of a  TA [Trade Adjustment] program that                                                               
is  specific  to commercial  fishermen,  because  the current  TA                                                               
program was designed for farmers.                                                                                               
Number 0772                                                                                                                     
MATT PANCRATZ,  Commercial Salmon Fisherman, mentioned  that he'd                                                               
heard retraining was the goal  for fishermen who've suffered from                                                               
the loss of  market price.  He said the  fishermen and processors                                                               
in Cook  Inlet don't have  the money  for their occupations.   He                                                               
asked if the  legislature would consider providing  funds to help                                                               
fishermen  create  a better  product,  rather  than spending  the                                                               
money on retraining.                                                                                                            
CHAIR SEATON responded that the  resolution does have a provision                                                               
for  the  [United  States]   Department  of  Agriculture  (USDA),                                                               
program,  as well  as  the [United  States]  Department of  Labor                                                               
(USDOL)  program.   The  USDA  program  is  the cash  payment  to                                                               
fishermen,  based   on  the  depressed  prices   or  losses  from                                                               
competition  with  imported  products,   he  explained,  and  the                                                               
(USDOL) program is the retraining money.                                                                                        
Number 0976                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  commented  that over  the  weekend  she'd                                                               
talked to  someone involved with  the university who  was excited                                                               
by the  numbers of fishermen  who were taking classes  to enhance                                                               
their fishing businesses.                                                                                                       
CHAIR SEATON  noted that last  year, legislation was  passed that                                                               
allowed processors to take a  tax credit on their corporate taxes                                                               
for investments  in value-added  products; small  operations were                                                               
included.    He  said  [this resolution  relates  to]  a  federal                                                               
program, and the  legislature doesn't have a lot  of influence on                                                               
the  way  the  federal  program  allocates  money;  however,  the                                                               
intent,  as  stated  by  Representative  OGG, is  to  ask  for  a                                                               
"fisherman-specific   program,   instead  of   just   shoehorning                                                               
fishermen into  the agricultural program."   He said he  hoped to                                                               
discuss  some  of  the  issues  brought up  by  Mr.  Pancratz  in                                                               
negotiating for the fishermen's program.                                                                                        
MR.  PANCRATZ  remarked  that  he   believed  the  committee  had                                                               
addressed most of the difficult issues.                                                                                         
CHAIR SEATON asked  Mr. Pancratz to keep his eyes  open for other                                                               
legislation coming up.                                                                                                          
Number 1180                                                                                                                     
MARK  VINSEL,  Executive  Director, United  Fishermen  of  Alaska                                                               
(UFA), spoke  in favor of  HJR 34.  He  said, "I also  think that                                                               
the  resolution addresses  the concerns  that we  heard the  most                                                               
from,  both  from  fishermen,  directly,  and  through  the  Farm                                                               
Service Agency and marine advisory  program that are implementing                                                               
the program."                                                                                                                   
Number 1232                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG asked if  the retraining and relocating                                                               
programs  were designed  to take  fishermen out  of the  industry                                                               
indirectly and then shut it down.                                                                                               
MR. VINSEL  responded, "I don't  think that it's  necessarily the                                                               
intention  of the  program  to reduce  the  number of  commercial                                                               
fishermen."  He spoke about  the technical-assistance part of the                                                               
program,  which includes  information  on  improving quality  and                                                               
diversification  in order  to remain  in the  [fishing] business.                                                               
He continued:                                                                                                                   
     The  retraining is  part of  the  [U.S.] Department  of                                                                    
     Labor program that  is provided in the  USDA program to                                                                    
     people who qualify  for the cash benefits.   One of the                                                                    
     points of  the resolution  is to apply  that retraining                                                                    
     assistance even to fishermen who  don't qualify for the                                                                    
     cash,  under   the  understanding  that   everybody  is                                                                    
     affected by  the increased imports.   And, in  my mind,                                                                    
     and I  believe it's in  the spirit of the  program that                                                                    
     it  should  be  allowing  that  retraining  benefit  to                                                                    
     people that are salmon  fishermen because the salmon is                                                                    
     a  commodity that's  been affected  by imports  as they                                                                    
     determined in the petition certification.                                                                                  
Number 1354                                                                                                                     
MR. VINSEL explained that relocation  is one aspect of the normal                                                               
USDOL  TAA program  not  provided  in this.    The fishermen  who                                                               
qualify  [under this  TAA program]  are eligible  for retraining,                                                               
but not the relocation aspect.  He added:                                                                                       
     In general,  I think  the spirit of  the program  is to                                                                    
     allow farmers to  continue to farm.  The way  I look at                                                                    
     these price support programs is,  it's to help retain a                                                                    
     industry sector of small individual  farmers, or in our                                                                    
     case,  fishermen, as  the heart  of  the nation's  food                                                                    
     supply, which I  think is a good goal  because it keeps                                                                    
     a diversified food  supply for the country,  not in the                                                                    
     hands of just a few.                                                                                                       
Number 1413                                                                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON drew attention to the  letter from UFA in support of                                                               
HJR 34.  He asked Mr. Vinsel if the UFA agreed with Amendment 1.                                                                
MR. VINSEL said yes.                                                                                                            
CHAIR SEATON noted  that the USDOL program,  although it conjoins                                                               
with  the  USDA's,  also   exists  independently;  fishermen  can                                                               
qualify  if  they  were  working for  a  processor  that  applied                                                               
separately.   Even if [fishermen]  weren't eligible for  the USDA                                                               
program, they could qualify for the USDOL training program.                                                                     
Number 1510                                                                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON  asked if anyone  else wished  to testify.   He then                                                               
closed public testimony.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  OGG complimented  UFA  and Mr.  Vinsel for  their                                                               
work on  HJR 34.   He also commended  Chad Padgett from  the USDA                                                               
for his hard work on the resolution.                                                                                            
Number 1583                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  moved to  report  CSHJR  34, Version  23-                                                               
LS1408\S, Utermohle,  2/3/04, as  amended, out of  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There being  no objection,  CSHJR 34(FSH)  was reported  from the                                                               
House Special Committee on Fisheries.                                                                                           

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