Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/24/2003 03:39 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       March 24, 2003                                                                                           
                          3:39 PM                                                                                               
TAPE HFC 03 - 37, Side A                                                                                                        
TAPE HFC 03 - 37, Side B                                                                                                        
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Williams called the House Finance Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 3:39 PM.                                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative John Harris, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Bill Williams, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Mike Chenault                                                                                                    
Representative Eric Croft                                                                                                       
Representative Richard Foster                                                                                                   
Representative Mike Hawker                                                                                                      
Representative Reggie Joule                                                                                                     
Representative Kevin Meyer, Vice-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Bill Stoltze                                                                                                     
Representative Jim Whitaker                                                                                                     
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Carl Moses                                                                                                       
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Senator Gary Stevens; Senator Ben Stevens; Cheryl Sutton,                                                                       
Staff, Senator Ben Stevens; Chuck Harlamert, Revenue Audit                                                                      
Supervisor, Tax Division, Department of Revenue                                                                                 
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Kris Norusz, Icicle Seafoods                                                                                                    
HB 90     "An Act relating to a salmon product development                                                                      
          tax credit under the Alaska fisheries business tax                                                                    
          and the Alaska fisheries resource landing tax; and                                                                    
          providing for an effective date."                                                                                     
          CSHB90 (FIN) was REPORTED out of Committee with No                                                                    
          Recommendation and one new fiscal impact note from                                                                    
          the Department of Revenue.                                                                                            
HB 104    "An Act relating to payment of the fisheries                                                                          
          business tax and to security for collection of the                                                                    
          fisheries business tax."                                                                                              
          CSHB 104 (FIN) was REPORTED out of Committee with                                                                     
          a "do pass" recommendation and with one new fiscal                                                                    
          impact note from the Department of Revenue.                                                                           
HOUSE BILL NO. 90                                                                                                             
     "An  Act relating  to a salmon  product development  tax                                                                   
     credit under  the Alaska fisheries business  tax and the                                                                   
     Alaska  fisheries resource  landing  tax; and  providing                                                                   
     for an effective date."                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Harris MOVED  to ADOPT  the Committee Substitute  HB
90 (FIN),  Work Draft 23-LS0525\I  (Utermohle).   There being                                                                   
no OBJECTION the Committee Substitute was ADOPTED.                                                                              
SENATOR BEN STEVENS,  SPONSOR, spoke in support  of the bill.                                                                   
He  explained that  the  Committee Substitute  resulted  from                                                                   
work with the  Salmon Task Force over the past  seven months.                                                                   
He  noted  that   the  Salmon  Task  Force   prioritized  its                                                                   
proposals  to the legislature  based on  potential impact  to                                                                   
the  2003  harvest cycle.    He  pointed  out that  the  bill                                                                   
contained two tax  credits:  one for product  development and                                                                   
one for salmon utilization.                                                                                                     
Senator B. Stevens  went on to explain important  elements of                                                                   
the  salmon  product  development  tax  credit.    First,  he                                                                   
pointed out  that the  credit could  not exceed a  taxpayer's                                                                   
liability by more than fifty percent.   Second, he noted that                                                                   
the  opportunity to  invest lasted  for three  years, with  a                                                                   
three-year carry  on for those investments made  in the third                                                                   
Senator  B.  Stevens  stated   that  the  credit  applied  to                                                                   
processing vessels  as well as  shore plants.   He emphasized                                                                   
that  the credit  applied  to the  property  first placed  in                                                                   
service, encouraging  investment in new equipment  to produce                                                                   
new products for the industry  with the intent of raising the                                                                   
vessel value over the long term.                                                                                                
Senator  B.  Stevens  also  noted that  a  taxpayer  may  not                                                                   
participate  in the  program if  they are in  arrears on  any                                                                   
other state liability.                                                                                                          
Senator  B.  Stevens  discussed the  salmon  utilization  tax                                                                   
credit,  and reiterated  that  a  taxpayer could  not  exceed                                                                   
fifty percent  of their liability  with a combination  of the                                                                   
two tax  credits.  He also  noted the difference  between the                                                                   
two tax  credits:   one being  for equipment  to produce  new                                                                   
products,  and   one  for  "the  cost  associated   with  the                                                                   
development,  manufacture,  purchase,  or  operation  of  new                                                                   
equipment or  a manufacturing  process to produce  marketable                                                                   
products  using the  bones, skin,  viscera  and carcasses  of                                                                   
salmon"(page  4, line 5).   He noted  that this language  was                                                                   
added  in  an effort  to  attract  the industry  toward  full                                                                   
Senator B. Stevens   observed  that the  bill was a  priority                                                                   
of the Salmon Task Force, and  suggested that the legislation                                                                   
would  ultimately raise  the ex  vessel value  over the  next                                                                   
three years by raising product quality.                                                                                         
Senator B. Stevens stated that  the impact of fiscal note was                                                                   
uncertain until  investment was actually made.   He explained                                                                   
that the  fiscal note  merely projected  impact of  potential                                                                   
investment.   He  stated  that the  long-term  return of  the                                                                   
benefit was also undetermined at this time.                                                                                     
In  response  to  a  question  by  Co-Chair  Harris,  Senator                                                                   
Stevens  explained  that the  Fisheries  Business  Tax was  a                                                                   
buyers tax, paid  based on the value of a  product purchased,                                                                   
differentiating  this from  wholesale value.   He noted  that                                                                   
the tax was 3 percent on shore and 5 percent off shore.                                                                         
Senator B. Stevens  clarified that the tax  credits pertained                                                                   
to both on and  off shore processors.  He confirmed  that the                                                                   
bill  did  not  focus  on  fishers  but  rather  on  the  tax                                                                   
liability of processors, whether  a large multi-facility or a                                                                   
small, individually owned facility.                                                                                             
Representative Croft referred  to a Letter of  Intent written                                                                   
by  the  House  Special Committee  on  Fisheries,  signed  by                                                                   
Representative  Seaton,  recommending  two additions  to  the                                                                   
bill.   Senator B. Stevens  stated that these  additions were                                                                   
not included in the Committee Substitute.                                                                                       
Senator B. Stevens   went  on to explain  that the  Letter of                                                                   
Intent  requested the  addition  of a  refined definition  of                                                                   
"value added" and a "claw back"  provision in case the system                                                                   
was abused.   Senator  Stevens suggested  that if policy  was                                                                   
created to  address potential  abusers, the policy  then lost                                                                   
its  value.    He  reiterated  that  this  language  was  not                                                                   
included in the legislation.                                                                                                    
In response to a question by Representative  Stoltze, Senator                                                                   
B.  Stevens  confirmed  that   if  a  taxpayer  invested  and                                                                   
utilized the  tax credit,  it would  reduce the liability  to                                                                   
the general fund.                                                                                                               
Representative Stoltze asked if  a cap for individuals or the                                                                   
overall  tax  credit  was considered.    Senator  B.  Stevens                                                                   
reiterated that  taxpayers were  limited to fifty  percent of                                                                   
their total liability.  He indicated  that an overall cap was                                                                   
not considered but speculated  that, since the total [salmon]                                                                   
tax  was $5.6  million, if  fully utilized  the credit  would                                                                   
still yield $2.8 million to the state.                                                                                          
Vice-Chair Meyer  referred to  the fiscal note  dated 3/20/03                                                                   
written  by  the  Department  of Revenue  and  asked  for  an                                                                   
explanation of costs.                                                                                                           
CHUCK   HALAMERT,   CHIEF  OF   OPERATIONS,   TAX   DIVISION,                                                                   
DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE projected  an investment in FY 04 of $3                                                                   
million, with a  maximum of $4.8 million in FY05.   He stated                                                                   
that the  total credit over  a six-year period  was estimated                                                                   
at $4.9 million.                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Williams   asked  for clarity  about the changes  in                                                                   
fiscal  impact between  the original bill  and the  Committee                                                                   
CHERYL  SUTTON, STAFF,  SENATOR BEN  STEVENS, clarified  that                                                                   
the Committee Substitute  added a tax credit  for full salmon                                                                   
utilization to  the original bill.   She pointed  out however                                                                   
that the combined  credits could not exceed  fifty percent of                                                                   
a taxpayer's liability.                                                                                                         
Co-Chair  Williams asked  if  a fiscal  note  was created  to                                                                   
address the  original bill.   There was  some question  as to                                                                   
the amount of change in the new fiscal note.                                                                                    
Co-Chair Harris observed  that the  new fiscal  note [to  the                                                                   
House   Fisheries'  version]   projected   the  state   would                                                                   
experience a  loss of approximately  $500 thousand in  FY 04,                                                                   
increasing to a maximum of $1.2  million, and then decreasing                                                                   
to $50  thousand in FY  09.  He  further observed  that state                                                                   
operations  cost  would  be  approximately  $23  thousand  in                                                                   
general funds.   He asked  for further explanation  regarding                                                                   
the $6 thousand  reduction in cost between the  new (3/20/03)                                                                   
and the previous (3/04/03) fiscal notes.                                                                                        
Mr. Harlamert explained  that the difference in  cost was due                                                                   
to an error  in the original fiscal  note.  He noted  that an                                                                   
audit  position and  associated  travel was  included in  the                                                                   
original  fiscal note,  and explained  that the position  was                                                                   
eliminated from the subsequent fiscal note.                                                                                     
In  response  to  a question  by  Representative  Croft,  Mr.                                                                   
Harlamert clarified  that the  value added salmon  processing                                                                   
equipment  credit   would  generate  $2  to   $3  million  in                                                                   
investment in the first year.                                                                                                   
Representative   Croft  maintained   that   the  new   credit                                                                   
definition was much  more broad.  He speculated  that any new                                                                   
equipment  used  to  market  the  product  would  potentially                                                                   
Mr. Harlamert  concurred that full utilization  potential was                                                                   
much more broad.                                                                                                                
Representative Croft asked whether  the deduction could total                                                                   
fifty percent of as much as $5.6  million if full utilization                                                                   
occurred.   He suggested  that the loss  to the general  fund                                                                   
would be between $1.2 million and $2.8 million.                                                                                 
Mr. Harlamert  pointed out  that the  credit was intended  to                                                                   
generate  investment in  its first  three  years, which  then                                                                   
could apply  toward taxes generated  over a six-year  period.                                                                   
He noted the potential to leverage  earnings beyond the fifty                                                                   
percent figure.                                                                                                                 
Representative  Croft  asked  if,  assuming  that  the  taxes                                                                   
remained  somewhat stable  at  $5.6 million,  the maximum  of                                                                   
general fund revenue in any one-year would be $2.8 million.                                                                     
Co-Chair  Williams asked  for  an estimate  of the  potential                                                                   
revenue loss, without the incentive.                                                                                            
Mr.  Harlamert   explained  that   the  revenue   impact  was                                                                   
impossible  for the  department to  determine, and  something                                                                   
that an economist might better determine.                                                                                       
Representative  Whitaker  clarified   that  the  state  would                                                                   
receive  approximately $2.5  million in  tax revenues  in any                                                                   
given  year, under  the new  tax  credits, and  asked if  the                                                                   
revenue curve was declining or flat.                                                                                            
Mr. Harlamert  speculated  that the state  had experienced  a                                                                   
downward  trend in  salmon tax.   He maintained  that it  was                                                                   
unclear how much the credit would affect this pattern.                                                                          
Representative  Whitaker  asked  how  applications  would  be                                                                   
reviewed if the credit were fully utilized.                                                                                     
Mr. Harlamert  responded that there was no  competition among                                                                   
participants,  since there  was  no set  amount  for the  tax                                                                   
relief, other than a percentage of existing taxation.                                                                           
Representative  Whitaker followed  up to  ask if  projections                                                                   
were therefore  conservative, and if  there might be  a great                                                                   
deal more participation.                                                                                                        
Mr. Harlamert expressed his belief  that the projections were                                                                   
optimistic  in terms  of generating  credit.   He  speculated                                                                   
that a  fairly limited  group of  taxpayers had the  required                                                                   
liability and were able to take  advantage of the credit.  He                                                                   
explained that the liability was  based on what they paid for                                                                   
raw fish.                                                                                                                       
Representative  Chenault  theorized  that if  liability  were                                                                   
based  on payment  for  product,  revenue would  increase  by                                                                   
creating a better  product.  Mr. Harlamert concurred  that if                                                                   
prices increased, the tax revenue would also increase.                                                                          
KRIS NORUSZ,  ICICLE SEAFOODS,  testified via  teleconference                                                                   
in  support  of the  bill.    She maintained  that  the  bill                                                                   
supported development of the industry.   She cited a previous                                                                   
tax credit  in the 1980's, and  stated that her  company took                                                                   
advantage of that credit to purchase  improved equipment that                                                                   
increased  efficiency.    She  proposed that  a  similar  tax                                                                   
credit would also stimulate industry development.                                                                               
Representative Stoltze  asked whether the  Administration was                                                                   
in support of the bill.                                                                                                         
Ms. Sutton responded  that the  Administration supported  the                                                                   
bill.  Representative Stoltze  requested that written support                                                                   
be  available should  the bill  proceed to  the House  Floor.                                                                   
Ms. Sutton confirmed that the  Administration viewed the bill                                                                   
as a method of improving the industry this season.                                                                              
Representative  Joule  expressed   his  desire  to  also  see                                                                   
legislation that supported fishers as well as processors.                                                                       
Representative Whitaker asked  for clarity about which fiscal                                                                   
note would be adopted.                                                                                                          
Co-Chair  Williams  stated  that an  updated  [Department  of                                                                   
Revenue] fiscal  note would accompany  the bill to  the House                                                                   
Representative Whitaker  asked for assurance that  the fiscal                                                                   
note represented an accurate range of projections.                                                                              
Mr.  Harlamert  clarified  that   the  fiscal  note  for  the                                                                   
Committee  Substitute  would be  different  from the  current                                                                   
fiscal note, both in terms of revenue and operating costs.                                                                      
Co-Chair Williams addressed the  issue of salmon utilization.                                                                   
He  noted  that currently  the  industry  experienced  costly                                                                   
difficulty in processing and disposing of salmon waste.                                                                         
Representative  Joule  asked whether  it  was appropriate  to                                                                   
send the  bill from Committee  without an appropriate  fiscal                                                                   
note.  Co-Chair  Williams also expressed his  discomfort with                                                                   
the lack of clarity over the new fiscal note.                                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Meyer also  expressed  his discomfort  with  this                                                                   
process.  He  asked about the compliance associated  with the                                                                   
fish product waste.                                                                                                             
Co-Chair   Williams   speculated   that   the   Environmental                                                                   
Protection  Agency   and  the  Department   of  Environmental                                                                   
Conservation   set  requirements   for  dealing  with   waste                                                                   
disposal.    He noted  that  the  State  did not  have  water                                                                   
primacy issues.  He discussed  the methods for handling these                                                                   
waste  products and  emphasized  its importance  to  industry                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Meyer  asked whether  the  process  needed to  be                                                                   
examined to find a solution to the disposal requirements.                                                                       
TAPE HFC 03 - 37, Side B                                                                                                      
Senator Ben Stevens  addressed  concerns  regarding  the  new                                                                   
fiscal  note.   He  clarified  that  the combination  of  the                                                                   
development  and  the  utilization tax  credits  could  never                                                                   
exceed  fifty  percent  of  a user's  total  liability.    He                                                                   
maintained that  since the  fisheries business tax  generated                                                                   
$5.6 million, the cost of full  utilization was $2.8 million.                                                                   
He  speculated  that  the  investment   level  was  the  only                                                                   
Representative  Croft  observed  that  the  fiscal  note  was                                                                   
between  $1.2  million and  $2.8  million.   Senator  Stevens                                                                   
stated that the  $1.2 million figure was based  on the credit                                                                   
not being  fully utilized in the  first year.   He maintained                                                                   
that it was unclear how many processors  would participate in                                                                   
the credit.                                                                                                                     
Senator B. Stevens   stated  that  the value  of the  product                                                                   
correlated directly  to the tax  revenue.  He  explained that                                                                   
the  intent of  the bill  was to  increase the  value of  the                                                                   
overall industry.   He  indicated that  the largest  year for                                                                   
the salmon industry was $882 million.                                                                                           
Representative  Croft  speculated  whether if  salmon  prices                                                                   
rebounded  the  tax credit  would  generate a  greater  cost.                                                                   
Senator  Stevens pointed  out that  the credit  was only  for                                                                   
three years,  and maintained that  the industry  would likely                                                                   
not change significantly in that time.                                                                                          
Senator  B.  Stevens  indicated   that  the  purpose  of  the                                                                   
legislation was to stimulate investment  in the industry.  He                                                                   
pointed  out that  the  uncertainty  was not  in  the cap  of                                                                   
liability but rather in the management of the liability.                                                                        
Representative  Croft  clarified  that the  full  utilization                                                                   
credit was to encourage processing  of all discard, excluding                                                                   
traditionally used parts of the fish.                                                                                           
Senator B.  Stevens referred to Page  2, line 23 of  the bill                                                                   
(FSH), which outlined value added portions.                                                                                     
Representative Croft  expressed confusion as to  the specific                                                                   
equipment  that could  be written  off  with the  utilization                                                                   
credit.  Senator Stevens conceded  that some equipment may be                                                                   
included in  the development  tax credit and  as well  as the                                                                   
utilization credit,  but pointed out that both  credits apply                                                                   
to the same fisheries business tax.                                                                                             
Representative Croft maintained  that, since different limits                                                                   
pertained to  each credit,  it might allow  for abuse  of the                                                                   
tax credit system.                                                                                                              
LARRY PERSILY,  DEPUTY COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT OF  REVENUE,                                                                   
testified via  teleconference regarding the new  fiscal note.                                                                   
He  provided  information  on   the  fiscal  history  of  the                                                                   
business fisheries  tax.   He noted that  in fiscal  years 93                                                                   
through 96, the  [total fisheries] tax revenue  was $42, $34,                                                                   
$39, and  $38 million respectively.   He also stated  that in                                                                   
FY 02 the tax revenue was at $25.5 million.                                                                                     
Mr. Persily explained that the  original fiscal note had been                                                                   
revised on  March 20.  He referred  to the Finance  Committee                                                                   
Work Draft,  and committed  to publishing  a final  Committee                                                                   
Substitute fiscal note by the next day.                                                                                         
In  response  to  a question  by  Representative  Croft,  Mr.                                                                   
Persily stated  that the total  FY 02 fisheries  business tax                                                                   
revenue was approximately  $25.3 million, with  half going to                                                                   
the general fund and half to municipalities.                                                                                    
Senator B. Stevens   noted  that the  fisheries business  tax                                                                   
applied  to all  species,  such  as halibut,  crab  etc.   He                                                                   
clarified that the tax under consideration  pertained only to                                                                   
the salmon portion, which was $5.6 million.                                                                                     
Representative  Croft  confirmed  his  support  of  assisting                                                                   
industry development.  He stated  his belief that the cap was                                                                   
not a clear $2.8 million, but  rather 50 percent of the price                                                                   
of product, which fluctuated.   He speculated that the amount                                                                   
might  therefore exceed  $2.8  million. He  stated that  this                                                                   
amount  was  contained   in  the  fiscal  note,   and  should                                                                   
therefore be clear.                                                                                                             
Representative  Croft   MOVED  to  report  CSHB   90  out  of                                                                   
Committee   with    individual   recommendations    and   the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal note.                                                                                                       
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
CSHB  90  (FIN)  was  REPORTED  out  of  Committee  with  "No                                                                   
Recommendation" and  one new fiscal note from  the Department                                                                   
of Revenue.                                                                                                                     
HOUSE BILL NO. 104                                                                                                            
     "An Act relating to payment of the fisheries business                                                                      
     tax and to security for collection of the fisheries                                                                        
     business tax."                                                                                                             
SENATOR  GARY  STEVENS,  SALMON   TASK  FORCE,  testified  in                                                                   
support of  the bill. He pointed  out that the  previous bill                                                                   
(HB 90) was  modeled after a successful bill,  which assisted                                                                   
the  pollock  industry.    He expressed  his  hope  that  the                                                                   
current  bill  would have  a  similar  affect on  the  salmon                                                                   
Senator G.  Stevens explained that  HB 104 also  pertained to                                                                   
the processing  industry.   He noted  that often the  smaller                                                                   
processors  did  not have  the  financial  depth to  pay  tax                                                                   
liabilities  on an  annual basis.    He noted  that the  bill                                                                   
allowed taxes to be paid on a monthly basis.                                                                                    
Senator  G. Stevens  indicated that  larger processors  might                                                                   
choose to  continue to  pay their taxes  annually.   He noted                                                                   
that participants  would be required  to file a bond  for $50                                                                   
thousand,  or demonstrate  lienable property  valued at  $100                                                                   
thousand.    He  speculated  that  it  might  only  be  taken                                                                   
advantage  of  by  a  handful  of  smaller  processors.    He                                                                   
summarized  that  the  bill  allowed  smaller  processors  to                                                                   
expand development.                                                                                                             
Representative  Chenault  expressed   concern  on  behalf  of                                                                   
processors in his area.  He asked  about the accessibility of                                                                   
a $50 thousand bond.                                                                                                            
Senator  Stevens  responded  that  the  legislation  did  not                                                                   
prevent processors  to continue  with their current  business                                                                   
practices,   but   merely   provided    them   with   another                                                                   
Ms. Sutton noted  that a Salmon Task Force member  who owns a                                                                   
salmon  processing center  in Naknek  viewed the  bill as  an                                                                   
opportunity that would benefit his business management.                                                                         
Representative  Foster   MOVED  to  report  CSHB104   out  of                                                                   
Committee with the accompanying fiscal note                                                                                     
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
CSHB  104 (FIN)  was REPORTED  out  of Committee  with a  "do                                                                   
pass"  recommendation and  with  one new  fiscal impact  note                                                                   
from the Department of Revenue.                                                                                                 
The meeting was adjourned at 4:47 PM                                                                                            

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