Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/13/1996 09:30 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 335 "An Act relating to the Big Game Commercial Services Board, guide-outfitters, transporters, and commercial use permit holders; extending the termination date of the Big Game Commercial Services Board; and providing for an effective date." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 335(RES)(title am) "An Act extending the termination date of the Big Game Commercial Services Board; eliminating the requirement for a commercial use permit and for payment of commercial use permit fees; amending the membership of the Big Game Commercial Services Board; relating to the qualifications for an assistant guide-outfitter license; eliminating the requirement for testing of assistant guide-outfitters; providing for additional licensing requirements for transporters; eliminating the requirement for prior approval to enter or remain on state and federal land; eliminating the requirement t o register base camps; amending the definition of 'big game commercial services'; and providing for an effective date." Mr. Dwight Perkins, Special Assistant, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Labor was invited to join the committee and testified with regards to amending the exemptions found in AS 23.10.055 to include individuals employed as guides and assistant guides from entitlement to minimum wage and overtime for the first sixty days while hunting in the field. The Department of Labor has historically opposed these kinds of exemptions because it just eliminates another class of employees from having the opportunity to receive minimum wage and overtime. Co-chairman Halford indicated a long list of exclusions and noted that this is a smaller exemption than most of those already existing in the law. Mr. Perkins concurred that the exemption does just carve out a minimum of time, i.e. the sixty days. The Department feels that this equates to the hunting season. Co-chairman Halford explained this bill was advocated due to the fact that there was not usually a supervisor available and the person running the camp could decide whether to work longer hours. There is no real authority. Wage and Hour has to make a decision based on this information only. Catherine Reardon, Director, Occupational Licensing was invited to join the committee. She noted this was a complete rewrite of the statute and reviewed amendment #1, duties and powers of the Department. During discussion of this amendment Senator Zharoff asked for a clarification of the word "current", page 3, line 6. Ms. Reardon explained that the language appeared on page 4, line 8 and was just transferred over. Senator Rieger asked that the word "appropriate" be inserted on line 3 page 27 before "...disciplinary..." and Ms. Reardon concurred. Senator Phillips noted that what may be an offense in one state may not be an offense in Alaska. Ms. Reardon stated the theory is that someone who will violate laws in another state will have a propensity to ignore the laws here. Captain Joe D'Amico, Commercial Crimes Bureau, Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection testified via teleconference. He concurred with Ms. Reardon's comments and noted the issue is whether or not the law was broken and the individual was charged or convicted. Co-chairman Halford said that someone with a conviction was excluded. Captain D'Amico indicated that there had been only a very few cases where an individual wanted to challenge their conviction. Ms. Reardon further indicated that the amendment included "revoked or suspended in Alaska or another jurisdiction". This would also include Canada and other countries. Senator Phillips questioned the terms "outfitter" and "guide". Co- chairman Halford said that was why the term "outfitter" needed to be added. He flagged these objections for further discussion. Ms. Reardon continued on to amendment #2, license qualifications. Co-chairman Halford said that it was difficult for rural Alaskans to find a place to take the CPR and first aid test and then the card was only good for one year, whereas the license was good for two years. It should be a requirement for getting a license but he opposed the first aid requirement because he felt this was a barrier for rural residents. Ms. Reardon indicated that he was correct and one only needed a current first aid or CPR card for renewal of the license. Senator Rieger questioned the $500 fine and Senator Zharoff wanted to know an example of what would cause a fine to be $500. Captain D'Amico said that under current law any guide or game violation would likely result in a fine over $500. Co-chairman Halford asked if the current standard was perhaps a little too tight? He concurred with Captain D'Amico that the whole package needed to be looked at with regards to what a violation is, what the standards are for license actions, Court actions and administrative penalties. Ms. Reardon continued on to amendment #3, registered guide license. Co-chairman Halford indicated that page 4, lines 9 - 13 will remain open for further consideration of how enforcement should be dealt with. He and Senator Phillips discussed the experience requirement to take the test and co-chairman Halford indicated that they were trying to advocate currency in the experience requirement. He noted that page 4, line 28 would remain open for further discussion. Senator Zharoff asked about proof of financial responsibility. Ms. Reardon said that current law requires liability insurance and this amendment would expand it to include assets. Ms. Reardon continued to amendment #4, renewal of registered guide license. She noted that in this section she was deleting the hunt records. Captain D'Amico said that harvest information is all included on one document at present. Co-chairman Halford said that page 6, line 27 he would hold open for further discussion. Ms. Reardon continued on to amendment #5, qualifications to be class A assistant guide license. Co-chairman Halford said that they would need to have a substantive discussion on the standard of discipline for both disqualification of license and for the administrative action for penalties when added to the Court's actions. Further policy questions remain on rural residents qualifying for class-A assistant guide licenses and first aid requirements. Co-chairman Halford asked Captain D'Amico for information regarding process and penalties for violation of a tagging, reporting, export license or fee requirement as a minor violation; process and penalties for wanton waste violation. Captain D'Amico referred to four violations that result in automatic license revocation under current law page 11, line 27. In addition to the license action any one of these four violations could bring a criminal sentence in the guide statute for up to one year and $30,000 fine plus additional criminal sanctions available under Title 16 ranging from $5,000 to a year in jail. These refer to state violations. He referred to a tagging violation of a sheep which is a $100 mail in bail. The guide, however, faces a guide violation which has up to a $30,000 fine and a year in jail. Co-chairman Halford asked about special felony provision for guides and Captain D'Amico said it was for multiple offenders who had one conviction on a guide violation. There is presumptive law in the new bill that would mandate a two-year sentence for some of those violations. Ms. Reardon indicated that the reason they would like to keep the civil option open is because if someone has done something relatively minor and Public Safety does not take them to court, a more mild sanction can be imposed through a civil action. (change to tape SFC-96, #40, Side 1) Senator Phillips asked Captain D'Amico if they were adequately equipped to enforce the laws at present. Captain D'Amico indicated that he was concerned about losing the commercial use permit fee because those funds were targeted for rural Alaska Game and Guiding Enforcement. Under the current system, however, an adequate job is being done. He did voice concern that judges did not generally handle guide license sentencing and referred that to the guide boards. However, if a guide has a potential of losing his license he is more apt to have a trial and that will affect the way matters are handled. Senator Phillips voiced concern over the ability to enforce the law in order to protect the conservation of the resources in the state. He cited the hunting of animals in closed season, including fishing. Co-chairman Halford said the questions now before the committee were how to deal with prior felonies; exclusion of felons and, if so, for how long; prior violations of hunting-sportfishing-guiding-outfitting statutes; exclusion of licensing for how long; the big four violations; automatic revocation of license or a suspension of license; dealing with smaller violations; and dealing with second smaller violations. This all has to be reviewed. Senator Rieger referred to peer review and felt this was not a good dependable policy. Co-chairman Halford said one gets knowledge but not impartiality under this system. Some standards have to be set up. Senator Zharoff said originally this was a user friendly bill toward rural residents. He asked what criteria was used for non-resident fees? Catherine Reardon said for criteria she just simply said "double". Senator Sharp was concerned about the "big four" violations and the conflict between state and federal regulations. Captain D'Amico felt this was a valid concern. He said the reason the federal regulations were included was to protect national parks, such as Mt. Denali and Katmai. Co-chairman Halford also indicated his concern. Captain D'Amico referred to a case where a bandit had gotten into a national park, which state game regulations do not address, and then the state was unable to take license action. The concern now is that the feds are managing more areas and they do occasionally have areas open that the state does not or vice versa. Co-chairman Halford referred to amendment #9 and wanted to know who decided "convicted of" as opposed to "violated". Ms. Reardon said that the Department through a hearing officer decided. She also referred to the possible options for disciplinary actions the department may take. Co-chairman Halford and Ms. Reardon discussed dealing with the level of enforcement. She noted that it was very difficult to get a hearing officer to recommend a revocation. Mr. Steven Dougherty, assistant Attorney General, Department of Law was invited to join the committee. In response to co-chairman Halford's question regarding non-resident fees he said that the Court had put forth some standards for imposing fee differentials. Non-residents can be required to pay their fair share of the administration of a program. It must be shown that non-residents should have to pay extra because residents are already contributing their fare share. He noted that the "Carlson case" was now before the Supreme Court for the second time. Initially it was held that non- residents have to pay the full cost of administration even if state residents are being subsidized in some manner and it was rejected by the Court. The Court further stated that mere bald assertion was not sufficient. Facts and figures must be supplied to show how the residents and non-residents become comparable. Basically, the State constitution is more limiting. Co-chairman Halford HELD HB 335 in committee and said a new draft should be presented with the division's amendments involving management and technical rewrites highlighted.