Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

02/26/2009 10:15 AM FISHERIES

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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
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Moved Out of Committee
HB 143-NO REPEAL OF SPORT FISH GUIDE LICENSING                                                                                
11:03:44 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR EDGMON announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  143,  "An  Act  repealing  the  termination  of                                                               
licensing  and regulation  of sport  fishing operators  and sport                                                               
fishing guides  and licensing and  registration of  sport fishing                                                               
vessels; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                  
11:03:53 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI moved to  adopt committee substitute (CS)                                                               
for  HB 143,  Version 26LS0622\R,  Kane 2/24/09,  as the  working                                                               
11:04:03 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH objected for discussion.                                                                                    
11:04:13 AM                                                                                                                   
TIM CLARK,  Staff, to Representative  Bryce Edgmon,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, directed attention to  Amendment 1, which will serve                                                               
to bring the  licensing fee schedule to  a self-sustaining level.                                                               
It will become essential, if the CS is adopted.                                                                                 
11:05:43 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. CLARK proceeded to introduce  CSHB 143, paraphrasing from the                                                               
sponsor statement,  which read  as follows  [original punctuation                                                               
     CSHB  143   (FSH)  will  ensure  the   continuation  of                                                                    
     Alaska's  sport  fish  guide  licensing  and  reporting                                                                    
     program, which has proven beneficial  to both the sport                                                                    
     fishing  industry and  resource  managers.   Also,  the                                                                    
     amended   license   fee   schedule  included   in   the                                                                    
     legislation will  generate funding  for the  program to                                                                    
     pay for itself.                                                                                                            
     Legislation authorizing the program  was passed in 2004                                                                    
     for a  number of  purposes.  The  Department of  Fish &                                                                    
     Game   sought    more   comprehensive    and   credible                                                                    
     information  on guide  numbers and  guiding activities.                                                                    
     The Department  also wanted  to create  basic standards                                                                    
     for   sport  fish   business   operators  and   guides,                                                                    
     including minimum  liability insurance  coverage, first                                                                    
     aid certification,  and in some cases  U.S. Coast Guard                                                                    
     vessel licensing.                                                                                                          
     Many  stakeholders  who  were  initially  skeptical  of                                                                    
     these measures now acknowledge  their role in advancing                                                                    
     the  guiding  profession.    This  increased  level  of                                                                    
     professionalism has  helped raise  the standing  of the                                                                    
     sport fish industry across the state.                                                                                      
     Many  also  agree  that   data  collected  through  the                                                                    
     program  is an  important  tool in  ADF&G's mission  to                                                                    
     develop and sustain healthy sport  fisheries.  The data                                                                    
     is  of  great  value   not  only  to  the  Department's                                                                    
     fisheries biologists  but also  to the Alaska  Board of                                                                    
     Fisheries,    the    International   Pacific    Halibut                                                                    
     Commission,  and the  North Pacific  Fishery Management                                                                    
     Sport   fish  data   collection  also   contributes  to                                                                    
     Alaska's   exemption  from   the  recently   instituted                                                                    
     National  Saltwater  Angler  Registry.    NOAA  exempts                                                                    
     states from  this federal registry and  data collection                                                                    
     system  if  they  have programs  in  place  to  provide                                                                    
     angler information.   Sport fishers would  otherwise be                                                                    
     required  by   2011  to   purchase  a   certificate  of                                                                    
     registration for $15 to $25.                                                                                               
     Passing CSHB  143 (FSH) will  permit the  Department of                                                                    
     Fish &  Game to  continue to  foster high  standards in                                                                    
     Alaska's sport  fishing industry.  It  will also enable                                                                    
     the Department  to carry  on collecting  important data                                                                    
     for  management  decisions  to benefit  both  fisheries                                                                    
     resources  and   their  stakeholders.    And   it  will                                                                    
     increase license  revenues to  a level that  will allow                                                                    
     the  program  to  operate without  need  of  a  funding                                                                    
11:09:49 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ  asked if  the proposed  raise in  fees will                                                               
offset the cost of the electronic log reporting program.                                                                        
MR. CLARK explained  that such a system does  not exist, although                                                               
the department has indicated that  it is considering implementing                                                               
11:10:49 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ  pursued her  interest regarding  the intent                                                               
of the department to upgrade the log program.                                                                                   
11:11:31 AM                                                                                                                   
CHARLES  SWANTON,  Director,  Division   of  Sport  Fish,  Alaska                                                               
Department of Fish  & Game (ADF&G), testified in  support of CSHB
143.   In response  to Representative  Munoz's question,  he said                                                               
that  an electronic  reporting system  does not  currently exist;                                                               
however,  Commissioner   Lloyd  has  prioritized   instituting  a                                                               
technologically  based reporting  system  that  includes the  log                                                               
program.   One of the  first steps to this  goal is the  point of                                                               
sale license  program.  The  component for this will  be launched                                                               
July, 2009, and  is the precursor to electronic  reporting.  Time                                                               
lines have been established to  introduce further components, and                                                               
the  intent   is  to   have  a  full   system  that   will  allow                                                               
comprehensive data  comparisons.  Further,  he said, the  new fee                                                               
structure will be  adequate to make the  program self supporting,                                                               
although the  complete costs of the  electronic reporting program                                                               
are not  yet fully known.   A portion of the  fee structure could                                                               
be  utilized for  this purpose,  but no  definitive decision  has                                                               
been made regarding the complete funding of this upgrade.                                                                       
11:15:33 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  noted the  general  support  for the  fee                                                               
structure  to cover  the  cost  of the  program.    With the  new                                                               
figures being  proposed, he asked  what benefits the  user guides                                                               
should expect to receive in exchange for the fee increase.                                                                      
MR. SWANTON related that a number  of categories exist in the fee                                                               
structure,  such  as  owner/guide  licenses  versus  guide  only.                                                               
There   are  about   1,600   businesses/guide  combinations   and                                                               
approximately  2,000  guides  who participate  in  the  industry.                                                               
Services relate primarily  to data collection, that  has a return                                                               
benefit to the guides through the management process.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER opined that a  program audit should be able                                                               
to  reveal accountability  for specific  return  benefits to  the                                                               
MR. SWANTON explained  that the associated costs  are for program                                                               
administration,  printing/distribution of  the log  books, vessel                                                               
licensing,  and  license  decals.    The  current  administration                                                               
requires  intensive  data  entry  and  information  distribution,                                                               
utilizing an antiquated, paper based system, he reported.                                                                       
11:20:05 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI   asked  if  a  fiscal   note  would  be                                                               
MR. CLARK  responded that an  updated fiscal note,  formulated to                                                               
provide a  self supporting  program relating to  the CS,  has not                                                               
been  distributed,  and  is  relevant to  the  bill  pending  the                                                               
adoption of  Amendment 1  [which cannot  be considered  until the                                                               
objection to adoption of CSHB 143 is removed].                                                                                  
11:21:36 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI established  that there are approximately                                                               
1,600 licensees.                                                                                                                
MR.  SWANTON   reiterated  that  1,600  is   the  combination  of                                                               
businesses/guides; guide registration averages 1,900.                                                                           
11:22:07 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  noted the  highlights of the  program as                                                               
reported  by the  director, regarding  the program's  performance                                                               
for the  years leading to the  sunset date.  However,  he pointed                                                               
out the  lack of tangible  results and  he asked the  director to                                                               
MR.  SWANTON relayed  that prior  to the  inception of  this bill                                                               
concerns  existed   regarding  the  professional   standards  for                                                               
guiding.    Negotiability  existed regarding  the  collection  of                                                               
comprehensive    data,    mandatory    insurance,    professional                                                               
identification,  and related  practices  for the  industry.   The                                                               
program has allowed for business  activity to be tracked, species                                                               
harvest/catch data collection, and  provided information utile to                                                               
related management agencies for marine waters.                                                                                  
11:25:06 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI  acknowledged  that  the  department  is                                                               
interested  in  creating/maintaining   business  standards.    He                                                               
questioned the fiscal responsibility  for first aid certification                                                               
and insurance coverage for operators.                                                                                           
MR. SWANTON specified that the  individual participants pay their                                                               
own costs for these benefits.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI  inquired whether first aid  training and                                                               
insurance  is mandated  due to  a regulation  propagated by  this                                                               
bill.  Further,  he asked if the licensed  operators are required                                                               
to hold a business license as well.                                                                                             
MR. SWANTON  replied yes,  they are required  to hold  a business                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  KAWASAKI   commented  that  the   CS  effectively                                                               
doubles  fee costs  for  small businessmen.    He maintained  his                                                               
interest in  knowing the original intent,  and for accountability                                                               
of the  accomplishments gained during  the five year life  of the                                                               
bill.   To support  the CS, he  said, he would  like to  have the                                                               
department  demonstrate how  the license  fees have  been/will be                                                               
utilized in an  efficient, effective manner, and  without harm to                                                               
the  user.   Basic mathematics  indicates a  fiscal note  will be                                                               
about $500,000, he estimated.                                                                                                   
11:27:36 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  EDGMON  interjected that  the  bill  is sponsored  by  the                                                               
committee on behalf of the  department, and based on departmental                                                               
11:27:59 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. CLARK  said that  the program  currently operates  on deficit                                                               
funding  and  the increased  fee  structure  is not  designed  to                                                               
bolster the  program, but with the  intent to have it  operate in                                                               
the black.                                                                                                                      
11:29:01 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ stated her  support for repealing the sunset                                                               
on the  bill, however,   she agreed  with the  previous committee                                                               
member's  comments, that  an increase  of the  fees has  not been                                                               
11:29:40 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT   requested  testimony  from   the  guide                                                               
associations as to what benefits  they have gleaned, if any, from                                                               
the original inception date of the bill.                                                                                        
11:30:08 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  expressed  concern for  where  the  bill                                                               
resides in  regard to  the budget process,  and whether  a fiscal                                                               
request has been made in a timely manner.                                                                                       
MR. SWANTON explained  that the budget shortfalls,  to date, have                                                               
been  filled  by  funds  acquired through  the  sale  of  fishing                                                               
licenses and game  harvest stamps.  The intent  of the department                                                               
was to  have this program be  solvent, via a funding  increase at                                                               
the sunset anniversary.                                                                                                         
11:33:09 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked what  ADF&G programs  were affected                                                               
by the diversion of $500,000 to keep this program solvent.                                                                      
11:34:45 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT noted that  the program has been operating                                                               
in a deficit for five years, at the cost of $250,000 per year.                                                                  
MR. SWANTON  said the amount  has varied depending on  the number                                                               
of   individuals  participating,   but  the   average  has   been                                                               
approximately $175,000.   The  projection for  FY 09-10  is about                                                               
MR. CLARK interjected  that the revised fiscal  note indicates an                                                               
amount of just  over $200,000, with the total  operating costs of                                                               
the program anticipated to be $462,000.                                                                                         
[The appropriate fiscal note was  made available to the committee                                                               
(prior to the adoption of CSHB 143 and Amendment 1).]                                                                           
11:36:55 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. CLARK reiterated  that this fiscal note  relates to Amendment                                                               
1, and otherwise is not relevant to the CS.                                                                                     
11:38:47 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON reviewed the fiscal  note and asked how it                                                               
is being considered in the budget.                                                                                              
MR. SWANTON  explained that the  request from the  department for                                                               
FY 10  will cover the  existing shortfall.   An increase  of fees                                                               
will apply to the FY 11 budget.                                                                                                 
11:42:45 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  EDGMON acknowledged  that confusion  exists regarding  the                                                               
fiscal  note.    The  bill   will  be  brought  back  before  the                                                               
committee, with more clarity, he said.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH asked to  have information provided regarding                                                               
impacts  to the  budget,  and budget  requests  reflected by  the                                                               
sunset of this bill, as well as the updated fiscal note.                                                                        
11:44:53 AM                                                                                                                   
DICK   ERKENEFF,  Member,   Board  of   Directors,  Kenai   River                                                               
Sportfishing  Association, Incorporated,  stated  that the  Kenai                                                               
River Sportfishing Association officially  supports CSHB 143.  He                                                               
said that the  guide management program is  essential, and should                                                               
continue without sunset.  The  bill provides sport fishing guides                                                               
with minimal  standards that  are important  to the  industry, as                                                               
well as  gathers essential data  for the continued  management of                                                               
the  industry.   The  timeliness of  the data  is  an issue,  and                                                               
setting up  the electronic reporting component  is also supported                                                               
by the association.                                                                                                             
11:47:54 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  noted  that the  association  letter  of                                                               
support was  written prior  to the fee  increase to  $200.00, and                                                               
asked if that has changed membership opinion of the bill.                                                                       
MR.  ERKENEFF  said  no,  the membership  still  stands  in  firm                                                               
support of the bill.                                                                                                            
11:48:38 AM                                                                                                                   
RICK SIKMA stated opposition to  CSHB 143, and reported that many                                                               
guides will have a difficult  time meeting the raised fees, given                                                               
the overall operational costs.                                                                                                  
CHAIR EDGMON  closed public testimony,  and stated that  the bill                                                               
would be held.                                                                                                                  
11:50:11 AM                                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CSHB143(FSH)--Sponsor Statement.pdf HFSH 2/26/2009 10:15:00 AM
HB 143
DraftCSHB143(FSH).PDF HFSH 2/26/2009 10:15:00 AM
HB 143
Work Draft for HCR6 CS.PDF HFSH 2/26/2009 10:15:00 AM
HCR6-KPFALetter.PDF HFSH 2/26/2009 10:15:00 AM
DraftCSHB143(FSH).PDF HFSH 2/26/2009 10:15:00 AM
HB 143
HB143-KRSASupportLetter.PDF HFSH 2/26/2009 10:15:00 AM
HB 143
HB143--ProgramRegs.PDF HFSH 2/26/2009 10:15:00 AM
HB 143