Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 124
02/16/2005 01:00 PM RESOURCES
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 107-ATTY FEES: HUNTING/FISHING INTERFERENCE CO-CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 107 "An Act providing for the award of full actual attorney fees and costs to a person aggrieved by unlawful obstruction or hindrance of hunting, fishing, or viewing of fish or game; amending Rules 79 and 82, Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure; and amending Rule 508, Alaska Rules of Appellate Procedure." REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) for HB 107, Version 24-LS0444\Y, Utermohle, 2/11/05, as a work draft. There being no objection, Version Y was before the committee. JIM POUND, Staff to Representative Ramras, noted the change on page 2, line 20, which allows the prevailing party to be entitled to reasonable actual attorney fees and costs. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he was going to offer an amendment to exclude commercial fishermen from HB 107 because he thinks it could lead to numerous lawsuits between fishermen, since anyone who receives a citation can be considered unlawful. He said he is not going to offer an amendment because he wants to protect fishermen from other kinds of intentional obstruction, but he wanted to discuss it. REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX said she is not concerned, because the fishermen would still have to prove how much they lost, which might be difficult. REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS said he thinks "the potential here for commercial fishermen to be suing one another is horrendous." CO-CHAIR RAMRAS said the intent was to protect hunters and trappers, "and now we seem to be inside of a fishnet." He asked if Representative Seaton would like to offer a conceptual amendment. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he wants to protect the fishing industry without allowing the kind of lawsuits he spoke of previously. He added that he supports the exemptions of the law enforcement officials. REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD said that Representative Seaton's concern is valid, so he suggested keeping commercial fishermen under Rule 82 of the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said that might be a good suggestion. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said he could not get by the words "reasonable, actual" in the bill because they can be mutually exclusive. MR. POUND said that the definition of "intentionally obstruct" would not be relevant to fishing competition. 2:02:02 PM REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD said the bill also says "hinder," which will have as much weight at "intentionally obstruct." REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said that is exactly what a fishermen wants to do: try to get situated in a superior position. REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX said that either person who loses must pay full attorney fees, so that may eliminate the possibility of frivolous lawsuits. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON offered Conceptual Amendment 1: Section 3; Insert "Commercial fishing operations will remain under Rule 82, Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure." REPRESENTATIVE GATTO made an objection and asked if commercial hunters should be included. CO-CHAIR RAMRAS said there is a significant difference between commercial fishing and commercial hunting. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said if a guiding service were to move in on a competitor, someone might be hindered, and he said it is worth discussing. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON explained that lawful competitive practices will protect those guides, as far as he knows. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said he wished a commercial guide were here to make sure. MR. POUND said that the committee addressed that issue in reviving the guide board, and there is existing statute dealing with guiding. REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS said he forgot that they discussed that bill, and he can support the bill with the Amendment 1. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO withdrew objection. CO-CHAIR RAMRAS asked whether there was any further objection to adopting conceptual Amendment 1. There being no objection, it was so ordered. REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX moved to report CSHB 107, Version 24- LS0444\Y, Utermohle, 2/11/05, out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO objected to discuss the terms "reasonable" and "actual." He said he doesn't think the two words can be combined sensibly. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON explained that as long as actual attorney fees were reasonable, the prevailing party will get the full, actual fees, but it would have to be determined reasonable by the judge. REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX said Representative Seaton is accurate; it just gives the judge discretion on what is reasonable. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked why not just say reasonable. REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX replied that if it just said reasonable it gives too much leeway to the judge, who might not even take into account what the fees actually were. REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said he does not get it and thinks it is a matter of grammar and not interpretation. Adding actual to reasonable adds silt to the water, he said. REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX suggested the committee ask Legislative Legal Services. CO-CHAIR RAMRAS said that the bill will find its way to the House Judiciary Standing Committee, which can deal with it. REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD suggested the committee get a quick answer. The committee took an at-ease from 2:13 PM to 2:21 PM. 2:21:52 PM MR. POUND stated that he found the terminology in the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure: "and shall pay reasonable actual attorney fees incurred..." REPRESENTATIVE GATTO withdrew his objection. REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX moved to report CSHB 107, Version 24- LS0444\Y, Utermohle, 2/11/05,, as amended, out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no further objection, CSHB 107(RES) was reported from the House Resources Standing Committee.