Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

03/27/2019 01:00 PM RESOURCES

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01:02:39 PM Start
01:03:06 PM Presentation(s): Alaska Minerals Commission
01:56:20 PM HB35
02:25:23 PM Confirmation Hearing(s):|| Big Game Commercial Services Board
02:48:51 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation: Alaska Minerals Commission Update TELECONFERENCED
by Lance Miller, Chairman & Rob Retherford, Board
Member, Alaska Minerals Commission
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Consideration of Governor's Appointees: Big Game TELECONFERENCED
Commercial Services Board
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         HB 35-CONFLICT OF INTEREST: BD FISHERIES/GAME                                                                      
1:56:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR LINCOLN  announced the next  order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  35, "An Act relating to  participation in matters                                                               
before  the Board  of  Fisheries and  the Board  of  Game by  the                                                               
members of the respective boards;  and providing for an effective                                                               
[Before the  committee was the  committee substitute (CS)  for HB
35(FSH),  reported   out  of  the  House   Special  Committee  on                                                               
Fisheries on 3/13/19.]                                                                                                          
1:56:49 PM                                                                                                                    
MATT GRUENING, Staff, Representative  Louise Stutes, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  on   behalf  of  Representative   Stutes,  sponsor,                                                               
introduced HB  35.   He read from  the following  written sponsor                                                               
statement [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                      
     This legislation changes the  manner in which the Board                                                                    
     of  Fisheries and  Board of  Game function  by allowing                                                                    
     members to  deliberate on subjects for  which they have                                                                    
     a declared personal or  financial interest according to                                                                    
     AS 39.52, the Executive  Branch Ethics Act. Members are                                                                    
     selected based  on their "knowledge and  ability in the                                                                    
     field  of action  of  the  board, and  with  a view  to                                                                    
     providing diversity  of interest and points  of view in                                                                    
     membership"; however, Title 39  prohibits a member from                                                                    
     "taking  or withholding  official  action  in order  to                                                                    
     affect a matter  in which the member has  a personal or                                                                    
     financial  interest."  (AS 39.52.120(b)(4)).  "Official                                                                    
     action"  is  defined   as  "advice,  participation,  or                                                                    
     assistance,  including for  example, a  recommendation,                                                                    
     decision,   approval,  disapproval,   vote,  or   other                                                                    
     similar   action,  including   inaction  by   a  public                                                                    
     officer." (AS 39.52.960(14)).  Currently, board members                                                                    
     are  required  to divulge  a  conflict  of interest  if                                                                    
     they, or  their immediate family members,  are involved                                                                    
     in  the subject  being deliberated  on. The  conflicted                                                                    
     member  can then  no longer  offer their  input on  the                                                                    
     process and  cannot vote on  the matter at  hand. Often                                                                    
     in the fishing world,  a financial or personal interest                                                                    
     corresponds   with   someone's    knowledge   of   that                                                                    
     particular  fishery. This  bill  allows the  conflicted                                                                    
     member to offer remarks  and input, but still precludes                                                                    
     them from  voting on  the issue at  hand or  on whether                                                                    
     they  have a  conflict  of  interest. Allowing  members                                                                    
     with expertise in particular  fields to deliberate will                                                                    
     help the  boards make more informed  decisions, lead to                                                                    
     stronger  resource  management   statewide,  and  align                                                                    
     process  with intent  as far  as the  boards benefiting                                                                    
     from  members' knowledge  and diversity  of viewpoints.                                                                    
     Thank you for your support of this legislation.                                                                            
1:58:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRUENING  advised sound resource  management should  be based                                                               
on all available information.   However, in the fishing industry,                                                               
financial or personal  interests may be tied to  the knowledge of                                                               
a fishery; for example, a board  member with a close relative who                                                               
owns  a certain  permit  may be  the only  board  member with  an                                                               
understanding of a  proposal.  Similarly, guides  or lodge owners                                                               
may be  the only board  member with  an understanding of  a hunt.                                                               
Especially in  rural Alaska, an  entire family may be  engaged in                                                               
one  manner  of work  such  as  commercial fishing,  guiding,  or                                                               
hunting,   thus   the   current  policy   discourages   qualified                                                               
applicants because  a board  member would be  unable to  speak on                                                               
many proposals.  Mr. Gruening  described how members are excluded                                                               
from  board  discussions and  provided  examples.   He  explained                                                               
another concern with  the current conflict of  interest policy is                                                               
one  of  transparency and  trust  in  the public  process;  board                                                               
members who  disclose a conflict  sometimes share  their opinions                                                               
off  the  record  and  outside  of  the  public  view,  which  is                                                               
discouraged by  the aforementioned  ethics act.   He  pointed out                                                               
the bill would allow a board  member who has disclosed a conflict                                                               
"to  impart their  knowledge before  they recuse  themselves from                                                               
the vote."   Mr.  Gruening restated the  importance for  Board of                                                               
Game  (BOG) and  Board of  Fisheries  (BOF) members  to have  all                                                               
available  information  on hand,  and  on  the record,  prior  to                                                               
making a  decision.  He  cautioned the selection process  for BOG                                                               
and BOF members  is contentious in order to  populate boards that                                                               
are balanced  and acceptable to  the public, the  legislature and                                                               
the  governor; therefore,  silencing voices  during deliberations                                                               
erodes  the  integrity  of  the public  process.    Mr.  Gruening                                                               
closed,  pointing  out 11  letters  and  19 emailed  messages  of                                                               
support included in  the committee packet, and  noting no letters                                                               
of  opposition were  received.   He  urged for  the committee  to                                                               
review  a  document  entitled,  "Background  Information  on  the                                                               
Alaska Boards  of Game  and Fisheries  Ethics Act  Process," also                                                               
included in the committee packet.                                                                                               
2:03:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  asked  whether  there  are  differences                                                               
between the bill and a similar bill that was proposed last year.                                                                
MR.  GRUENING  explained  the  only   difference  with  the  bill                                                               
proposed  last year  is  that the  redefinition  of an  immediate                                                               
family  member -  that  affected voting  and  thereby the  ethics                                                               
disclosure process - was removed.                                                                                               
2:05:30 PM                                                                                                                    
FRANCES  LEACH, Executive  Director, United  Fishermen of  Alaska                                                               
(UFA),  informed  the  committee  UFA  represents  35  commercial                                                               
fishing organizations  and hundreds  of commercial  fisherman and                                                               
crewmembers, throughout  the state, fishing in  state and federal                                                               
waters.    Ms.  Leach  said  UFA  has  supported  this  important                                                               
legislation for some time because  BOG and BOF members are chosen                                                               
for  their expertise,  within  their region  or  fishery, or  for                                                               
their local  hunting and game  knowledge; however, at  this time,                                                               
board members  who have  expertise in a  certain subject  are not                                                               
allowed to participate  in deliberations.  She  gave her personal                                                               
experience  with  BOF  under   these  circumstances  and  advised                                                               
allowing  knowledgeable board  members  to  fully participate  in                                                               
deliberations  will result  in a  better record  to assist  board                                                               
members, and  all of the  information will be established  on the                                                               
record.  Although members with  expertise are encouraged to serve                                                               
on the  boards, the current  policy discourages some.   Ms. Leach                                                               
urged the committee to pass the bill.                                                                                           
2:08:07 PM                                                                                                                    
JERRY  MCCUNE, President,  Board of  Directors, Cordova  District                                                               
Fishermen United  (CDFU), informed the committee  CDFU represents                                                               
about 1,000  fishermen.   He provided  examples of  board members                                                               
who were unable  to deliberate under various  circumstances.  Mr.                                                               
McCune  opined the  statute is  unfair  and creates  frustration.                                                               
Further,  a  familial  relationship  does not  always  equate  to                                                               
financial gain, and board members rely on each other for advice.                                                                
2:10:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR LINCOLN opened public testimony on HB 35.                                                                              
2:11:13 PM                                                                                                                    
BENJAMIN  MOHR,  Executive  Director,  Kenai  River  Sportfishing                                                               
Association (KRSA),  expressed KRSA's opposition  to HB 35.   Mr.                                                               
Mohr  informed the  committee  there  is no  need  to modify  the                                                               
ethical guidelines  that now apply  to BOF.  Current  conflict of                                                               
interest procedure  provides four opportunities  for "conflicted"                                                               
board members to  participate in the public process  to a greater                                                               
degree than  the general  public:   public comment,  committee of                                                               
the whole, board deliberations, and  voting.  During committee of                                                               
the   whole  procedures   board  members,   including  conflicted                                                               
members, interact with  the public, the Department  of Law (DOL),                                                               
and  the Alaska  Department  of  Fish &  Game  (ADFG), and  board                                                               
members  can   interact  with  state  agencies,   proponents  and                                                               
opponents of  proposals, and  others, which  is an  advantage the                                                               
public does not  have.  Following its  committee work, conflicted                                                               
board members  are recused, and BOF  begins formal deliberations.                                                               
Mr. Mohr opined HB 35 expands  the influence of board members who                                                               
have   a   direct   financial  interest   in   a   matter   under                                                               
consideration, even though conflicted  board members already have                                                               
an opportunity  in formal and  informal settings to  ensure their                                                               
opinion and  expertise is  known.   He advised  current "conflict                                                               
procedures"  are   not  unknown,  or  untested,   and  have  been                                                               
reasonably  effective;   KRSA  believes  loosening   the  ethical                                                               
guidelines for BOF and BOG is not in the public interest.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE   SPOHNHOLZ  asked   for   clarification  on   the                                                               
opportunities  conflicted board  members have  to participate  in                                                               
addition to the committee of the whole discussion.                                                                              
MR. MOHR said conflicted board  members participate as members of                                                               
the  public  during  public  comment.   In  further  response  to                                                               
Representative   Spohnholz,   he   said   there   are   currently                                                               
sportfishing interests serving on BOF.                                                                                          
2:14:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  asked whether a  board member who  holds a                                                               
sportfishing  license   would  be  "conflicted  out"   of  making                                                               
allocative decisions about sportfishing.                                                                                        
MR. MOHR expressed  his understanding the chairman of  BOF or BOG                                                               
is the  ethics officer who  would make  a final decision  about a                                                               
conflict;  however, there  must be  a direct  financial interest,                                                               
and holding a  sportfishing license would not  establish a direct                                                               
financial  interest   in  the  management  of   the  sportfishing                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   HANNAN  observed   the  BOF   ethics  disclosure                                                               
statement  does not  define a  threshold for  a direct  financial                                                               
interest.  She  asked for the point at which  one has a financial                                                               
interest in the sportfishing fishery.                                                                                           
MR. MOHR restated the decision on  an unethical conflict is up to                                                               
the chairman of BOF and BOG, and DOL.                                                                                           
2:16:55 PM                                                                                                                    
GLEN HAIGHT, Executive Director,  BOF, ADFG, explained matters of                                                               
subsistence, personal use, and  sportfish affect everyone equally                                                               
thus there is  no effort to assess personal  financial benefit to                                                               
those matters;  a board member  who holds a sportfish  license or                                                               
who  engages in  a  subsistence fishery  is  not conflicted  out.                                                               
However, a guide operator may  be affected; according to DOL, the                                                               
threshold is $5,000, and a conflict may arise at that point.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN questioned  whether the  guide's threshold                                                               
of economic return is based on  the value of the sportfishing day                                                               
trip or on the value of the fish [caught].                                                                                      
MR. HAIGHT said, "It's to  the operator, the commercial operator,                                                               
it doesn't apply to their client."                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN asked  whether sportfishing lodge operators                                                               
would be conflicted out of all sportfishing decisions.                                                                          
MR.  HAIGHT  gave  the  example  of a  lodge  owner  whose  lodge                                                               
operates in an  affected area and who would benefit  from a board                                                               
action; this would be a specific instance.                                                                                      
2:19:54 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  LINCOLN, after  ascertaining no  one further  wished to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 35.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN  returned  attention  to  the  BOF  ethics                                                               
disclosure  and observed  the definition  of family  differs from                                                               
that of the legislature's ethics law.                                                                                           
MR.  GRUENING  explained  in  the  executive  branch  ethics  act                                                               
immediate  family  member is  defined  in  AS 39.52.960  (11)  as                                                               
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
     (11) "immediate family member" means                                                                                       
     (A) the spouse of the person;                                                                                              
     (B) another person cohabiting with the person in a conjugal                                                                
     relationship that is not a legal marriage;                                                                                 
     (C) a child, including a stepchild and an adoptive child,                                                                  
     of the person;                                                                                                             
     (D) a parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, or uncle of the                                                                  
     person; and                                                                                                                
     (E) a parent or sibling of the person's spouse;                                                                            
MR.  GRUENING pointed  out the  aforementioned  differs from  the                                                               
legislative  branch   definition  found   in  AS   24.60.990  (6)                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     6) "immediate family" means                                                                                                
     (A) the spouse or domestic partner of the person; or                                                                       
     (B) a parent, child, including a stepchild and an adoptive                                                                 
     child, and sibling of a person if the parent, child, or                                                                    
     sibling resides with the person, is financially dependent                                                                  
     on the person, or shares a substantial financial interest                                                                  
     with the person;                                                                                                           
MR. GRUENING said, "That was  pretty close to the definition that                                                               
was in the bill before it was removed ...."                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  surmised the BOF ethics  disclosure states                                                               
not just  the immediate family, but  a member of the  family, and                                                               
the bills narrows the definition to immediate family.                                                                           
2:23:41 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GRUENING  clarified   the  bill  makes  no   change  to  the                                                               
definition of  immediate family;  for BOF  and BOG,  the statutes                                                               
are AS 39.52.960 (9) and (18) [original punctuation provided]:                                                                  
     (9) "financial interest" means                                                                                             
     (A) an interest held by a public officer or an immediate                                                                   
     family member, which includes an involvement or ownership                                                                  
     of an interest in a business, including a property                                                                         
     ownership, or a professional or private relationship, that                                                                 
     is a source of income, or from which, or as a result of                                                                    
     which, a person has received or expects to receive a                                                                       
     financial benefit;                                                                                                         
     (18)  "personal interest"  means  an  interest held  or                                                                  
     involvement by a public officer, or the officer's immediate                                                              
     family member  or parent,  including membership, in any                                                                  
     organization, whether fraternal, nonprofit, for  profit,                                                                 
     charitable, or political, from which, or as a result of                                                                  
     which, a person or organization receives a benefit;                                                                        
[HB 35 was held over.]                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 35 ver U 03.13.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/29/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Explanation of Changes ver A to U 03.13.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/29/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Fiscal Note-DAS-03.15.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/29/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Sponsor Statement 03.05.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Informational Document BOF-BOG History and Process 03.06.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Informational Document-ADF&G BOF Ethics Process Overview and Recusals 3.6.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Suporting Letter SEAFA 03.02.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Supporting Emails(18 Combined) 03.25.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Supporting Letter ABSC 03.08.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Supporting Letter ALFA 03.13.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Supporting Letter APHA 03.21.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Supporting Letter NPFA 03.25.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Supporting Letter PVOA 03.13.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Supporting Letter RHAK 03.11.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Supporting Letter SEAS 03.22.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Supporting Letter UFA 03.06.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Supporting Letter USAG 03.07.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/29/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB35 Supporting Letter Wallesz 03.25.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Supporting Letter KSA 03.26.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
HB 35 Hearing Request Memo 03.13.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 35
Cash Joyce_Redacted.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
Big Game Commercial Services Board
Big Game Commercial Services Board Fact Sheet and Roster.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
Big Game Commercial Services Board
FINAl2019MineralsCommissionReport.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
Alaska Minerals Commission Presentation 3.27.19.pdf HRES 3/27/2019 1:00:00 PM
Alaska Minerals Commission