Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

02/14/2006 09:00 AM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Time Changed from 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. --
Moved CSSB 10(JUD) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Scheduled But Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
              HB 107-HUNTING/FISHING INTERFERENCE                                                                           
10:11:48 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  RALPH  SEEKINS  announced  CSHB  107(FIN)  to  be  up  for                                                               
JIM  POUND,  Legislative  Aide   to  Representative  Jay  Ramras,                                                               
introduced the  bill for the  sponsor. He informed  the committee                                                               
they would be  hearing SCS CSHB 107(RES). Currently  a person who                                                               
purposefully  interrupts another  person  from hunting,  fishing,                                                               
trapping, or  viewing wildlife  in Alaska can  be charged  with a                                                               
crime but the  courts are not permitted to grant  damages for the                                                               
actual  attorney fees.  The  bill would  correct  that error  and                                                               
would send a message to those  who attempt to prevent people from                                                               
earning a living off of the wilderness of Alaska.                                                                               
MR. POUND urged the committee to  support the bill and offered to                                                               
answer questions.                                                                                                               
10:13:29 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  GRETCHEN GUESS  asked  Mr. Pound  for  some examples  in                                                               
relation to page 2, lines 4-5.                                                                                                  
MR. POUND informed the committee  that it is existing language in                                                               
the statutes.                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS stated  AS 11.81.900(a)(1)  defines intention.  He                                                               
read from the statute.                                                                                                          
     (1) a person acts "intentionally" with respect to a result                                                                 
          described  by a  provision of  law defining  an offense                                                               
          when the person's conscious objective  is to cause that                                                               
          result; when intentionally  causing a particular result                                                               
          is an  element of an  offense, that intent need  not be                                                               
          the person's only objective;                                                                                          
He said this  refers to a person  intentionally, not accidentally                                                               
doing the act.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR GUESS  posed the situation  of combat fishing.  She asked                                                               
whether it  was the intent of  the bill to charge  someone with a                                                               
crime if  they step  in front  of a  person in  order to  catch a                                                               
MR.  POUND  said  no.  The  intent  is  to  prevent  people  from                                                               
intentionally   interrupting  the   viewing   opportunity  of   a                                                               
photographer or the hunting opportunity of a hunter.                                                                            
10:16:22 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS noted  some  examples  of the  intent  would be  a                                                               
person stealing traps or destroying a viewing platform.                                                                         
SENATOR CHARLIE HUGGINS said he  has heard of organized groups of                                                               
people  with loud  speakers and  bells  interrupting others  from                                                               
lawfully viewing or hunting wildlife.  He asked Mr. Pound whether                                                               
that often occurs in Alaska.                                                                                                    
MR. POUND could not cite a case of that happening.                                                                              
SENATOR   HUGGINS  opined   about   anti-war  demonstrations   in                                                               
10:18:27 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS  mentioned that  trappers  who  place their  traps                                                               
closer  to  urban  areas frequently  find  their  traps  rendered                                                               
ineffective by  others. Under HB 107  it would be a  violation of                                                               
law, he stated.                                                                                                                 
MR. POUND  corrected him  and said that  was already  against the                                                               
law. HB 107  adds language to current statute  for recouping full                                                               
attorney fees and reasonable associated costs.                                                                                  
10:19:14 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  FRENCH  asked  whether there  were  other  instances  in                                                               
Alaska law that allow for full recovery of attorney fees.                                                                       
MR.  POUND  said  eminent  domain allows  for  full  recovery  of                                                               
reasonable fees.                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH countered in the normal  course of law it would be                                                               
an exception.                                                                                                                   
MR. POUND agreed.                                                                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH  asked Mr.  Pound whether  he was  concerned about                                                               
encouraging   people  to   sue   one   another  over   incidental                                                               
disturbances of wildlife.                                                                                                       
MR. POUND  said the  issues would grow  as the  state experiences                                                               
population  growth.  The  bill  is  an  opportunity  to  nip  the                                                               
behavior in the bud.                                                                                                            
10:20:45 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  clarified the bill addresses  specific intentional                                                               
acts and does not refer to the incidental.                                                                                      
SENATOR FRENCH asked whether one  combat fisherman who stepped in                                                               
front of another fisherman to land  a salmon on the Russian River                                                               
would be intentionally interfering with that other fisherman.                                                                   
MR. POUND  said he did not  believe that the bill  would be taken                                                               
to that extreme.                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH begged to differ.                                                                                                
10:22:25 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  FRENCH said  there are  instances that  are trivial  and                                                               
should  never  go  forward  as   lawsuits  but  they  do.  Combat                                                               
fisherman  do purposefully  and  intentionally step  in front  of                                                               
others  to  land  their  fish.  He  expressed  concern  that  the                                                               
allowance  of  full  attorney fees  and  reasonable  costs  would                                                               
encourage people to file trivial lawsuits.                                                                                      
MR. POUND  advised the committee of  a case in Fairbanks  where a                                                               
superior court  judge awarded Eugene Johnson  punitive damages on                                                               
his claim that  another individual broke state law  by freeing an                                                               
injured wolf  in a  trap line. The  decision awarded  Mr. Johnson                                                               
close to $200,000.                                                                                                              
10:24:15 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  said he was  familiar with  the case. A  member of                                                               
Friends of  Animals clipped off a  snare and allowed the  wolf to                                                               
escape. It was a deliberate intervention in a legal activity.                                                                   
SENATOR  GUESS  observed that  Alaskans  take  combat fishing  to                                                               
another level.  She added  that a  commercial fisherman  moving a                                                               
boat into  another fisherman's area  could initiate a  lawsuit as                                                               
well. She  wondered whether the bill  would open up that  type of                                                               
MR. POUND responded the bill  is referring to language already in                                                               
existing  statute. There  is not  a  trend of  that happening  in                                                               
commercial or sport fishing. HB  107 intends to change court rule                                                               
and allow the judge to give  full restitution when the case comes                                                               
to civil court.                                                                                                                 
10:25:58 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS  countered page 2 line  4 does not speak  about the                                                               
court. It adds a paragraph relating to the intentional act.                                                                     
MR. POUND said  he would interpret "physically  interfering" as a                                                               
person actually  doing something  physical. He speculated  that a                                                               
fisherman  cutting off  another  fishing boat  would not  qualify                                                               
under a definition of "physical."                                                                                               
SENATOR GUESS asked to get a clarification from legal.                                                                          
SENATOR HUGGINS expressed support for the bill.                                                                                 
10:28:33 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. POUND  noted the definition  of "physical" is  "pertaining to                                                               
the   body  as   distinguished  from   the  mind"   according  to                                                               
Ballentines Dictionary.                                                                                                         
SENATOR FRENCH  said the committee  understands that HB 107  is a                                                               
good idea but Senator Guess brings  up a good point. He expressed                                                               
interest  in hearing  an  opinion from  the  United Fisherman  of                                                               
Alaska and from the legislative  legal department before the bill                                                               
leaves committee.                                                                                                               
10:31:20 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  also expressed an  interest in hearing  an opinion                                                               
from the legislative legal department.                                                                                          
SENATOR GUESS  spoke for the  record that she supports  the bill.                                                               
She maintained that she had concerns over some of the wording.                                                                  
CHAIR SEEKINS held HB 107 in committee.                                                                                         

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