Legislature(2017 - 2018)SENATE FINANCE 532
04/16/2018 09:00 AM FINANCE
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CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 267(RES) "An Act requiring the release of certain records relating to big game hunters, guided hunts, and guided sport fishing activities to municipalities for verification of taxes payable; and providing for an effective date." 10:04:31 AM Vice-Chair Bishop discussed housekeeping. TIM CLARK, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE BRYCE EDGMON, explained that the bill gave municipalities that levied taxes on guided fish and game activities access to records that hunting, and sport fish guides submitted to state agencies. He said that this would provide local governments a tool that would help to confirm that such hunting a fishing activity, subject to taxes within their jurisdictions, were being accurately reported. He noted that all information released to municipalities would remain confidential at the municipal level. Vice-Chair Bishop interjected that Senator Micciche was away on sate business and would join the committee shortly. Senator von Imhof observed that the sponsor statement stated: The bill would allow municipalities access to certain records collected by the state Senator von Imhof asked what the access entailed, which records would be shared, and how privacy would be protected. Mr. Clark responded that hunt records were through the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development; while sport fishing records were held by the Sport Fish Division of the Department of Fish and Game. He explained that the confidentiality would be backed up by provisions in criminal law; A breech in confidentiality constituted a Class A misdemeanor and all officials at the municipal level would be subject to the law. 10:07:49 AM Senator von Imhof assumed that the files would be shared back and forth electronically, and that the files would be protected. She wondered how municipalities would know whether fees had been collected by the state. Mr. Clark responded that the fees were collected at the local level and access to the records gave municipalities a cross referencing tool to learn about hunting and sport fishing activities within their jurisdictions. He guessed that state agencies would likely be troubled only once a year for the information. 10:09:27 AM Mr. Clark reviewed the Sectional Summary (copy on file): Section 1 amends statutes on the confidentiality of hunt records and activity reports to add municipalities to those entities already allowed access to such information. Section 1 also makes it explicit that municipalities would be required to maintain the confidentiality of the records, and the section limits municipalities' access to hunt records to those describing activities occurring within four calendar years preceding a request for them. Section 2 gives the Department of Commerce authority to charge a municipality a fee for accessing hunt records, should expenses to the department warrant one. Section 3 amends statutes on the confidentiality of records and reports required by the Department of Fish & Game to include that a municipality is allowed access to records and reports of guided sport fishing activities if the municipality levies a tax on such activities and requests the records for the purpose of verifying taxes payable. Section 3 also limits municipalities' access to sport fishing records to those describing activities occurring within four calendar years preceding the request. Section 4 gives the Department of Fish & Game authority to charge a municipality a fee for accessing sport fishing records, should expenses to the department warrant one. Section 5 provides for an immediate effective date. 10:10:56 AM Senator Stevens thought it was important to discuss the rationale behind the bill and the problem it would solve. Mr. Clark stated that the Lake and Peninsula Borough had brought the issue to the sponsor because they believed that they may be ceding $50 thousand to $100 thousand per year because of unpaid local taxes. 10:12:00 AM Vice-Chair Bishop OPENED public testimony. RAY DEBARDELABEN, KENAI RIVER PROFESSIONAL GUIDE ASSOCIATION, SOLDOTNA, explained that he said that log books had been created for Department of Fish and Game to collect biological data, which was private and privileged information. He stressed that sport fishery data varied dramatically depending on time of year, location, and equipment used. He believed that the borough already had programs set up to make sure that taxes were being collected. 10:14:03 AM JOHN ERICKSON, CITY AND BOROUGH OF YAKUTAT, YAKUTAT, testified in support of the bill. He relayed that the borough was large and collected taxes from 5 lodges in the area. He said that some people accessed the area by plane that did not come directly form the borough, which made it difficult to know who was using resources. He thought that the legislation would help to keep tabs on who was operating within the borough. He felt that the records would be safely stored to protect confidentiality. Senator Stevens asked how much revenue the city had lost and how the tax would be collected for Yakutat. Mr. Erickson replied that the data would give the city an idea of who was operating within their borough, which would likely double the city's revenue. 10:18:13 AM SUSAN EDWARDS, LAKE AND PENINSULA BOROUGH, KING SALMON, spoke in support of the bill. She said that without the legislation it was difficult for the borough to know whether currently reported numbers were correct and whether all guides working within the borough were reporting correctly. She felt that the issue of confidentiality was laid out in borough code and believed that the amendment that added a penalty for breach of confidentiality had alleviated that issue. Senator Stevens asked what recourse was available if it was found that false reports had been made by guides. Ms. Edwards thought having access to the records would decrease the need for punitive action on the part of the borough. She noted that the borough already had fines for late and false reporting. 10:21:36 AM Vice-Chair Bishop asked Ms. Edwards about potential lost revenue. Ms. Edwards was confident that passage of the bill would increase revenue by $50,000 to $100,000 per year. Vice-Chair Bishop asked how much outreach the borough did to guides to educate on the process. Ms. Edwards stated that the borough had worked hard to reach out and educate guides. She said that at the beginning of the process there had been approximately 40 guides registered with the borough, at this juncture there were well over 120 guides in record. Vice-Chair Bishop CLOSED public testimony. CSHB 267(RES) was HEARD and HELD in committee for further consideration. 10:23:27 AM AT EASE 10:30:01 AM RECONVENED