Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/03/1996 02:05 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
       SENATE BILL NO. 247                                                     
       "An Act relating  to the fish  and game fund;  amending                 
  Rules     79(b)  and   82(b)(2),  Alaska   Rules  of   Civil                 
  Procedure; and      providing for an effective date."                        
  Senator Robin Taylor  was invited to join  the committee and                 
  testified on behalf of the bill.   He referred to CSSB 247()                 
  work draft and  explained the amendments that  it contained.                 
  He said these  were significant  changes but had  assurances                 
  from Department of Fish and Game they would not oppose these                 
  amendments.     Senator  Frank  asked  that  Senator  Taylor                 
  reiterate his  advocation  of  the  "preservation"  feature.                 
  Senator Taylor  commented on  his visit to  the 4-H  program                 
  being  put  on in  conjunction with  the  local gun  club to                 
  receive training and instruction on how to handle a firearm,                 
  clean it, how  to walk with it  and carry it.   Over seventy                 
  youngsters showed up from the community with their families.                 
  They had commented on the difficulties of getting a rifle or                 
  pistol  range  constructed and  then  to  make sure  it  was                 
  protected in the future.  He said the drafters had suggested                 
  the use of the term "preservation".                                          
  Senator  Rieger  referred  to  another  phrase used  by  the                 
  sponsor  "manipulation  of  habitat" and  asked  that  it be                 
  described for the committee.   Senator Taylor said the  best                 
  example  was  the AWACS  crash  at Elmendorf.    Because the                 
  Department  of  Fish  and  Game  and the  Anchorage  Airport                 
  Authority failed to  do anything  about a significant  known                 
  risk of geese to aircraft, and had refused to do any habitat                 
  manipulation  at  the  end  of  the  runway  which had  been                 
  recommended  over  fifteen  years  before  by both  FAA  and                 
  pilots, when that flock  of geese took off all  those people                 
  were killed.   Habitat manipulation  could very easily  have                 
  changed the make-up of that area  immediately off the end of                 
  the runway by making it an area not preferred by water fowl.                 
  Habitat manipulation  can be  helpful for  human beings  and                 
  also the animals.                                                            
  Mr. Geron Bruce, Department of Fish  and Game was invited to                 
  join the committee.  He said  it was important to understand                 
  the effect of this bill on wildlife in a whole.  The Federal                 
  Aid and Wildlife Restoration Act,  passed in 1937 formed the                 
  basis  for  all   modern  scientific    fish   and  wildlife                 
  management that the states conduct.  It is a federal program                 
  that collects money at the national  level and then sends it                 
  back to the states on a formula basis.  As a requirement for                 
  receiving  that  money  the states  have  to  dedicate their                 
  revenues  from  their  hunting and  fishing  licenses.   The                 
  primary  motivation for  this act  was  the wildlife  in the                 
  country was  in a  very depressed  state due to  unregulated                 
  hunting and major habitat degradation.  Therefore, the state                 
  dedication  of  the license  fees  had  to go  to  support a                 
  management fish and wildlife agency.  Two basic ideas behind                 
  this legislation  were to  provide a  stable and  continuous                 
  source of funding for fish and  wildlife management, and  to                 
  put fish and  wildlife management on  a scientific basis  by                 
  setting up state agencies that were staffed by professionals                 
  in the  field.   This has had  a major  impact resulting  in                 
  wildlife  populations and sport  fish populations  that were                 
  depressed at the time.   This bill would have a major impact                 
  on the  way this act works.  At  this time budgets are built                 
  based on scientific training and programs which are in  turn                 
  based  on  a multiple  year  goal.   Each  item  would be  a                 
  separate  appropriation  with  constituents and  legislators                 
  from  different  parts  of  the   state  competing  for  the                 
  particular programs  they wanted to  see funded  out of  the                 
  available monies.   This would present many difficulties for                 
  maintaining any consistent long term program that was trying                 
  to achieve specific goals over a number of years.  This also                 
  causes  a  concern  with the  consequence  of  the budgeting                 
  process.   In  addition there are  major concerns  about the                 
  particular fiscal impacts to this  legislation.  He referred                 
  briefly   to  the  testimony   presented  before  the  House                 
  Resources committee.                                                         
  Kevin Brooks,  Department of  Fish and Game  was invited  to                 
  join the committee.   He said he was testifying particularly                 
  on the impact  to his division.   It would seriously  affect                 
  the ability  to provide centralized services  for personnel,                 
  accounting, budgeting  and procurement.   Another major item                 
  would  be   administering  the  licensing  program.     This                 
  legislation would not  allow for  the cost of  administering                 
  the licensing program.  There  is approximately $1.3 million                 
  in  fish  and game  funds of  which  over $700,000.  is paid                 
  directly to the vendors  for selling licenses.  Since  FY 92                 
  the division's entire  budget was general funds.   Presently                 
  the division is  one third  fish and game  funds, one  third                 
  federal  funds and one  third general funds.   The licensing                 
  program  has  been the  most  heavily affected.    Rates for                 
  administrative costs of running the programs, getting people                 
  paid and paying the vendors  are negotiated with the federal                 
  government.    There are  a number  of federal  programs and                 
  grants  the division is involved with  which are required by                 
  statute.  He said these were indirect by nature and would be                 
  prohibited as the bill is currently written.  The net effect                 
  would be just under $1 million in lost federal receipts that                 
  is collected and $1.3 million in lost fish and game funds.                   
  Senator  Taylor asked  which  form  of  the bill  was  being                 
  referred  to  and Mr.  Brooks advised  it was  the CS.   Co-                 
  chairman Halford advised  Senator Taylor  to be thinking  of                 
  either  amendments  that  could  be  presented  or  possible                 
  conceptual amendments.                                                       
  Sarah Hannan,  Alaska Environmental  Lobby   was invited  to                 
  join the committee and testified  in opposition to the bill.                 
  She said  she was  not opposed  to hunting  and fishing  but                 
  asked that one should consider what  is implied in the bill.                 
  A hunting or  fishing license is  not a user  fee.  It  is a                 
  regulatory  permission   to  harvest  a  resource   that  is                 
  collectively owned and belongs to all.   There needs to be a                 
  more  comprehensive  measure  for   equitable  distribution,                 
  including a series  of user fees for  non-consumptive users.                 
  The majority of  Alaskans that appreciate fish  and wildlife                 
  are  not licensed  sport fish/hunters.   She  said the  sole                 
  reason for this bill  was because the sponsor did  not agree                 
  with management decisions made by the department of fish and                 
  game  and therefore  wanted  to intimidate  them.   This  is                 
  manipulative,  short-sighted management  that is  bad public                 
  policy.  The issue  of wolf management and  predator control                 
  comes in a variety of legislation this year and in all cases                 
  this is strongly  opposed.  Fish and game  management should                 
  be based on science.  She said this bill  would only further                 
  increase   animosity  between   the   legislature  and   the                 
  department and  encouraged the  committee to  not pass  this                 
  bill out.                                                                    
  Senator Taylor advised he would  work with the department on                 
  an amendment if one is necessary and would present it on the                 
  floor.  Senator Frank moved work draft CSSB 247() and it was                 
  adopted for work purposes.  He  then moved CSSB 247(FIN) and                 
  without  objection  it  was  reported  out  with  individual                 
  recommendations and zero fiscal note  from the Department of                 
  Public Safety, zero  fiscal notes with fund  sources changes                 
  from  the  Department  of  Fish  and  Game,   Administrative                 
  Services, Wildlife Conservation and Sport Fish divisions.                    

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