Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/25/2004 01:07 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 341-DIVE FISHERY MANAGEMENT ASSESSMENT                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  DAHLSTROM announced  that the  final order  of business                                                               
would  be HOUSE  BILL  NO.  341, "An  Act  relating  to the  dive                                                               
fishery management assessment."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1988                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
TIM BARRY,  Staff to Representative  Bill Williams,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  speaking  on  behalf  of  Representative  Williams,                                                               
sponsor, told  the committee HB  341 is a  "housekeeping measure"                                                               
requested  by  the  Southeast   Alaska  Regional  Dive  Fisheries                                                               
Association  (SARDFA)   to  provide   more  flexibility   in  its                                                               
operations.   He  turned attention  to a  fact sheet  provided by                                                               
SARDFA,  and explained  that SARDFA  members  pay a  tax that  is                                                               
based on  the percentage of  the value of  their catch.   He said                                                               
the revenue from  this tax is spent on managing  the various dive                                                               
fisheries that members  are involved with.  Mr.  Barry said under                                                               
current state  law, association members  elect to  tax themselves                                                               
by species  at a rate of  1, 3, 5, or  7 percent of the  value of                                                               
the landings in a given dive fishery.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1857                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JULIE DECKER, Executive Director,  Southeast Alaska Regional Dive                                                               
Fisheries Association, testified.   She stated that  this bill is                                                               
mainly a housekeeping measure.   Members are currently allowed to                                                               
assess themselves  at either 1,3,5,  or 7 percent and  would also                                                               
like to be given  the ability to assess themselves at  2, 4, or 6                                                               
percent, which is what this bill  would do, she said.  Currently,                                                               
she  said  the sea  cucumber  and  the geoduck  fisheries  assess                                                               
themselves  at 5  percent, and  the sea  urchin fishery  is at  7                                                               
percent.   Ms. Decker said  she believes the original  reason why                                                               
the bill had to specify the 1,  3, 5, or 7 percentages is because                                                               
the legislature  is the only body  that has the authority  to tax                                                               
and it couldn't  give that authority in a broad  sense to SARDFA.                                                               
However,  she   said  the  legislature  could   give  SARDFA  the                                                               
authority  to  vote and  tax  itself  at a  [specific  percentage                                                               
amount].                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG   asked  Ms.  Decker  if   $66,695  is                                                               
SARDFA's administrative budget.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. DECKER  said correct but she  thought that amount was  from a                                                               
previous year.   She said  the [administrative budget] is  in the                                                               
$50,000 range each year.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG asked  Ms.  Decker if  SARDFA is  only                                                               
trying   to  raise   the   amount  of   money   needed  for   its                                                               
administrative budget.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. DECKER  said SARDFA  is not looking  to change  anything with                                                               
this  legislation  aside  from  the  ability  in  the  future  to                                                               
possibly change  the rate  that SARDFA assesses  itself at.   She                                                               
said  the rate  at which  SARDFA assesses  itself equates  to the                                                               
[total value of  assessments for each fiscal year]  and the total                                                               
amounts are generated by the  percents, which are currently 1, 3,                                                               
5, and 7.   Ms. Decker said  SARDFA would like the  ability to do                                                               
2,4, or  6 percent if  it needs to.   She said currently,  in the                                                               
sea cucumber fishery,  in particular, SARDFA has a  little bit of                                                               
an excess at  5 percent, but if it lowers  the assessment down to                                                               
3 percent it would be a  40 percent reduction and SARDFA would be                                                               
a little bit short.  Ms.  Decker said SARDFA is trying to foresee                                                               
that it may  be able to reduce  it down to 4 percent  and be just                                                               
right.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1665                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF   asked  Ms.  Decker  if   SARDFA  currently                                                               
assesses itself at 1, 3, 5, or 7 percent.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. DECKER said  SARDFA has the ability to vote  to tax itself at                                                               
those percentages.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF  asked Ms. Decker  how the  percentages would                                                               
be adjusted with the passage of the bill.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. DECKER said  there was talk among divers in  the sea cucumber                                                               
industry  that they  may look  at  reducing the  assessment to  4                                                               
percent, if they had that ability.   She remarked, "We don't have                                                               
that ability,  so we're trying to  look forward and ...  see that                                                               
coming."   She  said the  geoduck fishery  is also  talking about                                                               
increasing  its assessment  but  if the  assessment  needs to  be                                                               
changed, it  has to come  from a petition from  within membership                                                               
or within the  permit holders, and they always  have that ability                                                               
to change the assessment if they would like.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1584                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE directed  attention to page 1,  line 8, and                                                               
she asked who determines the election.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. DECKER explained that the  association would hold an election                                                               
and  all of  the  permit  holders within  each  fishery who  have                                                               
legitimate permits would be able to vote.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1539                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  said it  looked  as  though the  executive                                                               
director's salary  is half of  SARDFA's budget, and he  asked how                                                               
that salary is determined.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. DECKER  said every year  SARDFA's board of directors  signs a                                                               
contract with the current executive  director and every year that                                                               
is up for change.  She  said the budget within the administration                                                               
is just the "nuts and bolts,"  and SARDFA has a budget outside of                                                               
that for  having contracts with  people to do (indisc.)  work and                                                               
PSD  [prevention of  significant  deterioration] sampling,  water                                                               
sampling, and other projects.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  said he was  curious to see how  much money                                                               
SARDFA  is spending.   He  asked how  much money  SARDFA actually                                                               
spends.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. DECKER turned attention to  the SARDFA handout entitled "Dive                                                               
Fisheries Fact  Sheet -  Corrected," and she  said number  six is                                                               
the assessment that SARDFA collects each year.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1426                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STEPOVICH moved to report  HB 341 out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no objection,  HB 341 was reported  from the                                                               
House Resources Standing Committee.                                                                                             

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