Legislature(1997 - 1998)

02/19/1997 01:40 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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                     HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                   
                        FEBRUARY 19, 1997                                      
                            1:40 P.M.                                          
                                                                               
  TAPE HFC 97 - 33, Side 1, #000 - #520.                                       
                                                                               
  CALL TO ORDER                                                                
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Gene Therriault called  the House Finance Committee                 
  meeting to order at 1:40 P.M.                                                
                                                                               
  PRESENT                                                                      
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Hanley               Representative Grussendorf                     
  Co-Chair Therriault           Representative Kohring                         
  Representative Davies         Representative Martin                          
  Representative Davis          Representative Moses                           
  Representative Foster         Representative Mulder                          
                                                                               
  Representative Kelly was not present for the meeting.                        
                                                                               
  ALSO PRESENT                                                                 
                                                                               
  Representative  Jeannette  James;  Carol Carroll,  Director,                 
  Division of  Administrative Services, Department  of Natural                 
  Resources;  David  Stancliff,  Staff,  Representative  Scott                 
  Ogan; Michele  Drummond, Alaska  Environmental Lobby  (AEL),                 
  Kodiak;  Wayne  Regelin,  Director,  Division  of   Wildlife                 
  Conservation,  Department of Fish  and Game;  Patrick Kalen,                 
  President,  American  Congress   On  Surveying  &   Mapping,                 
  Fairbanks.                                                                   
                                                                               
  SUMMARY                                                                      
                                                                               
  HB 17     An  Act  establishing  the Department  of  Natural                 
            Resources  as  the platting  authority  in certain                 
            areas of  the state; relating to  subdivisions and                 
            dedications; and providing for an effective date.                  
                                                                               
            CS HB  17 (RES) was reported out of Committee with                 
            a "do pass" recommendation and  with a fiscal note                 
            by  the  Department  of  Natural  Resources  dated                 
            1/31/97.                                                           
                                                                               
  HB 26     An  Act relating to big  game tags for wolves; and                 
            providing for an effective date.                                   
                                                                               
            HB  26 was  reported out of  Committee with  a "do                 
            pass" recommendation and with a fiscal note by the                 
            Department of Fish and Game dated 1/31/97.                         
                                                                               
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  HOUSE BILL 17                                                                
                                                                               
       "An   Act  establishing   the  Department   of  Natural                 
       Resources as the platting authority in certain areas of                 
       the state;  relating to  subdivisions and  dedications;                 
       and providing for an effective date."                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES  noted that  last year HB  17                 
  was  HB 80  which  died in  the  rush of  adjournment.   She                 
  commented that work on the legislation over the last several                 
  years has molded the  bill into one that has  no opposition.                 
  Representative James  advised that the  proposed legislation                 
  is supported by  the Department of Natural  Resources (DNR),                 
  surveyors and all impacted classes of people.                                
                                                                               
  HB 17 would bring all of  the unorganized boroughs under the                 
  purview of  DNR as pertaining  to platting  of real  estate.                 
  The  bill would  also clean  up  the definition  problems by                 
  defining the word "subdivision" so that all agencies use the                 
  same terminology.  The Department has specified a time frame                 
  in which the plat must be  approved or disapproved.  If  the                 
  review is not completed  in a timely manner, the  plat would                 
  be approved by default.                                                      
                                                                               
  Representative James  proceeded to address  the changes made                 
  to the original legislation in the committee substitute.                     
                                                                               
  Representative  Grussendorf  asked   if  the  boroughs   and                 
  municipalities had  been contacted  regarding impact of  the                 
  legislation.   Representative James  noted that  the process                 
  would not affect the boroughs or municipalities because they                 
  already have their own rules.   The only ones affected would                 
  be the  ones with no platting  authority.  The law  would be                 
  relative to a new  borough or municipality and  the language                 
  of the bill would include University lands.   She concluded,                 
  the  purpose  of the  legislation  would  be  to meet  State                 
  requirements for monumentation, review and legal access.                     
                                                                               
  Representative Foster asked how the legislation would affect                 
  patented  mining  claims.   Representative  James understood                 
  that if at  this time they are doing it, they would not have                 
  to provide  legal access.   Under  the DNR  purview and  the                 
  proposed legislation, legal  access would be required.   She                 
  advised that  the legislation  would cover  all lands  where                 
  there is no other platting authority.                                        
                                                                               
  PATRICK KALEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CONGRESS ON SURVEYING AND                 
  MAPPING (ACSM), FAIRBANKS, spoke in  support of the proposed                 
  legislation.    The   original  bill  appeared  before   the                 
  Legislature in 1976.  ACSM  initially forbade the Department                 
  from  implementing  engineering  standards.    He  commended                 
  Representative  James   for  creating  a  "good"   piece  of                 
                                                                               
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  legislation and one which ACSM supports.                                     
                                                                               
  Representative Foster  noted that the fiscal  note indicates                 
  that  revenues  raised  would  pay  for the  Lands  Surveyor                 
  Assistant II position.  He voiced  concern that living in an                 
  unorganized  borough,  those  funds would  be  going  to the                 
  General Fund.   His fear  was with future  budget cuts,  the                 
  permitting process would be slowed down.                                     
                                                                               
  Mr. Kalen replied  that a 45 day time limit for filing would                 
  be installed.  Co-Chair Therriault pointed out that Page #4,                 
  Line  #3, clarifies that  language noting the  45 day filing                 
  time limit and  that, "the Commissioner 'shall'  approve the                 
  plat or return it".                                                          
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Therriault asked the difference between last year's                 
  fiscal  note  and  the current  one.    Representative James                 
  explained,  last  year's  fiscal  note  had  indicated   $64                 
  thousand  dollars  in  receipts and  expenses;  the  current                 
  fiscal note requests $73.3 thousand  dollars with a start-up                 
  request of $21.3 thousand dollars.                                           
                                                                               
  CAROL   CARROLL,   DIRECTOR,   DIVISION  OF   ADMINISTRATIVE                 
  SERVICES, DEPARTMENT  OF NATURAL  RESOURCES, added  that the                 
  difference between  the two  notes was  directly related  to                 
  personal services  and the funding  of the Land  Surveyor II                 
  position.   She  was  not  aware  of  the  position  funding                 
  requested last year.  Representative  James pointed out that                 
  as the costs have risen, the permit fee was increased.                       
                                                                               
  Representative G. Davis asked if the fee would be adjustable                 
  depending on the  actual costs.  Representative  James noted                 
  that the fee would cover the expenses.                                       
                                                                               
  Representative J. Davies pointed out that the fees  would be                 
  received  as  General Fund  receipts.    If  there were  $70                 
  thousand dollars General Fund receipts, under present budget                 
  operations,  a $70  thousand dollars  would need  to be  cut                 
  elsewhere  in  the  budget.    Representative  James agreed,                 
  although,   countered   that  legal   challenges  addressing                 
  subdivisions  could  "eat"  that  amount  up quickly.    She                 
  believed that the  legislation would provide a  savings over                 
  the long term.                                                               
                                                                               
  Representative J. Davies commented for  the record that this                 
  type of receipt should be  categorized as designated program                 
  receipts so that no other service  would be cut from another                 
  program.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Representative Martin MOVED to report CS  HB 17 (RES) out of                 
  Committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal note.  There being  NO OBJECTION, it was                 
                                                                               
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  so ordered.                                                                  
                                                                               
  CS HB  17 (RES)  was reported out  of Committee  with a  "do                 
  pass"  recommendation  and   with  a  fiscal  note   by  the                 
  Department of Natural Resources dated 1/31/97.                               
  HOUSE BILL 26                                                                
                                                                               
       "An Act  relating  to big  game  tags for  wolves;  and                 
       providing for an effective date."                                       
                                                                               
  DAVID  STANCLIFF, STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE  SCOTT OGAN,  noted                 
  that  HB  26   addresses  the   need  to  provide   wildlife                 
  specialists  with  the  proper  management  tools  in  areas                 
  identified  as  needing  intense management.    In  light of                 
  Ballot Initiative #3  being approved,  he suggested that  it                 
  was more  important  to  pass  HB 26.    Without  sufficient                 
  latitude, it would  be difficult for the Department  of Fish                 
  and Game  and the Board of Game  to meet the requirements of                 
  sustained yield management  under Article VIII of  the State                 
  Constitution.                                                                
                                                                               
  Mr. Stancliff continued, to maintain a healthy population of                 
  moose,  caribou,  and  sheep  for  both  human  and  natural                 
  harvest, the Department and  Board of Game have  few choices                 
  once hunting has  been reduced or  eliminated.  HB 26  would                 
  provide  increased incentives  for non-resident  hunters who                 
  consider the purchase of a big game tag to harvest wolves.                   
                                                                               
  Those  hunters  are  generally under  the  supervision  of a                 
  professional guide  which requires a more  closely monitored                 
  entry  into  the  field.     Together  with  more  stringent                 
  reporting requirements  of animals  both taken  and shipped,                 
  would  provide  the  Department a  well  controlled  tool in                 
  attaining  the  scientifically established  population goals                 
  for a given  area.  He noted, of  the 10,000 nonresident who                 
  typically hunt  in Alaska  annually, less  than 3%  purchase                 
  tags for harvesting  a wolf.   The main  reason for low  tag                 
  sales is that the  opportunity to harvest a wolf  is remote.                 
  Consequently, most hunters are unwilling to pay a large  sum                 
  of money with such poor odds.  Mr. Stancliff thought that by                 
  establishing a more reasonable price on tags, the Department                 
  should see a significant rise in  sales placing more dollars                 
  into the  Fish  and  Game  Fund while  also  increasing  the                 
  incidental take of wolves.                                                   
                                                                               
  He concluded that HB  26 would provide a wider  latitude for                 
  the Board of Game in making adjustments to meet the needs of                 
  both  human  and  secondary  utilization  of  our  important                 
  ungulate resources  while increasing the revenues for better                 
  management.  Mr. Stancliff urged  the Committee's support of                 
  the legislation.                                                             
                                                                               
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  In  response  to  Representative  Therriault's  query,   Mr.                 
  Stancliff responded  that the  fees would  be applicable  to                 
  resident  and resident  non-aliens.   The  legislation would                 
  reduce  the fee  for non-resident  hunters from $175  to $30                 
  dollars,  reducing  big  game  fee wolf  tag  fee  for  non-                 
  residents from $250 to $50 dollars.  He  noted at this time,                 
  there is no fee for residents.                                               
                                                                               
  Co-Chair  Therriault  asked  how the  fiscal  note  had been                 
  calculated.  Mr. Stancliff replied that last year, consensus                 
  had been reached with the Department  of Fish and Game, that                 
  the requested level not be prohibitive for big game  hunters                 
  to pick up  a tag.   The Department  attempted to  calculate                 
  revenues  generated if  50%  of  the  non-residents  hunters                 
  purchased tags.                                                              
                                                                               
  Representative Grussendorf stressed  that tags are necessary                 
  in  order   to  monitor   the  harvest   of  wolves   within                 
  relationship to the game management.                                         
                                                                               
  WAYNE REGELIN, DIRECTOR, DIVISION  OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION,                 
  DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME, stated that a count of how many                 
  wolves had been harvested would  be provided when having the                 
  hides sealed.  The hide can not be exported out of the State                 
  without being sealed and at that time the  information being                 
  documented.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Representative Grussendorf asked  if that would be  true for                 
  State  residents.     Mr.  Regelin   advised  Representative                 
  Grussendorf  that  there  is good  reporting  of  numbers of                 
  wolves harvested.  He reiterated that in order to export the                 
  hides to have them tanned or to be sold, they must be sealed                 
  by the  Department.  The hide can  not be sold if  it is not                 
  sealed.                                                                      
                                                                               
  Co-Chair  Therriault asked the  Department's position on the                 
  proposed  legislation.     Mr.   Regelin  stated   that  the                 
  Department of Fish and Game  supports the legislation.   The                 
  wolf  population   in  Alaska  is  under-utilized   and  the                 
  legislation would provide  more opportunity to  sportsmen to                 
  harvest wolves without damage to that population.                            
                                                                               
  MICHELE DRUMMOND, ALASKA ENVIRONMENTAL LOBBY (AEL),  KODIAK,                 
  spoke  against  the  proposed  legislation.    She  informed                 
  Committee members that  the reduction cost  of tag fees  for                 
  hunting wolves would  not increase  revenue.  She  suggested                 
  that the  bill was clearly a  voice against the  will of the                 
  people and their vote on Proposition #3.                                     
                                                                               
  Co-Chair  Therriault  countered  that  there  could   be  an                 
  increase in revenue because  the fee would be lower  and the                 
                                                                               
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  tags would be  easier to  purchase.   He added  that in  his                 
  district, Proposition #3 failed.                                             
                                                                               
  Representative  Grussendorf asked  if  there were  any areas                 
  within the  State where  a smaller  wolf population  exists.                 
  Mr.  Regelin confirmed  that the wolf  population throughout                 
  Alaska is healthy  with between 7,000  and 10,000 wolves  in                 
  the State.  The average yearly harvest is 1,100  wolves.  He                 
  emphasized that  the bill  is not a  predator control  bill.                 
  The legislation will  provide more opportunity to  harvest a                 
  resource that is abundant.  Mr. Regelin added, the only area                 
  of  concern  would be  on the  Seward  Peninsula.   The wolf                 
  population there is  kept at  a lower level  because of  the                 
  reindeer industry.                                                           
                                                                               
  In response to questions by Representative  Grussendorf, Mr.                 
  Regelin advised that 60-70% of the  wolf harvest is taken by                 
  trapping.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder MOVED to report HB 26 out of Committee                 
  with  individual recommendations  and with  the accompanying                 
  fiscal note.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                   
                                                                               
  HB  26  was  reported out  of  Committee  with  a "do  pass"                 
  recommendation and with a  fiscal note by the  Department of                 
  Fish and Game dated 1/31/97.                                                 
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  The meeting adjourned at 2:10 P.M.                                           
                                                                               
                                                                               
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