Legislature(2013 - 2014)HOUSE FINANCE 519

01/30/2014 01:30 PM FINANCE

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01:36:39 PM Start
01:36:39 PM HB266 || HB267
01:36:53 PM Budget Overview: Alaska Court System
02:13:20 PM Budget Overview: Department of Fish and Game
03:29:07 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ - Governor's Budget Overview: TELECONFERENCED
Alaska Court System
Dept. of Fish & Game
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                     January 30, 2014                                                                                           
                         1:36 p.m.                                                                                              
1:36:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Austerman called the House Finance Committee                                                                           
meeting to order at 1:36 p.m.                                                                                                   
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Alan Austerman, Co-Chair                                                                                         
Representative Bill Stoltze, Co-Chair                                                                                           
Representative Mark Neuman, Vice-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Mia Costello                                                                                                     
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
Representative Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                   
Representative Cathy Munoz                                                                                                      
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Tammie Wilson                                                                                                    
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Doug Wooliver, Deputy  Administrative Director, Alaska Court                                                                    
System; Cora Campbell, Commissioner,  Department of Fish and                                                                    
Game; Kevin Brooks, Deputy  Commissioner, Department of Fish                                                                    
and Game.                                                                                                                       
HB 266    APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS                                                                                  
          HB 266 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
HB 267    APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET                                                                                          
          HB 267 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
FY 15 BUDGET OVERVIEWS:                                                                                                         
     ALASKA COURT SYSTEM                                                                                                        
     DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 266                                                                                                            
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     loan  program  expenses  of state  government  and  for                                                                    
     certain  programs,   capitalizing  funds,   and  making                                                                    
     reappropriations; making appropriations  under art. IX,                                                                    
     sec. 17(c),  Constitution of the State  of Alaska, from                                                                    
     the constitutional budget reserve fund."                                                                                   
HOUSE BILL NO. 267                                                                                                            
     "An  Act making  appropriations for  the operating  and                                                                    
     capital    expenses   of    the   state's    integrated                                                                    
     comprehensive mental health program."                                                                                      
1:36:39 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Austerman  discussed the  schedule for the  day. He                                                                    
relayed  that  questions  would  be  held  until  after  the                                                                    
^BUDGET OVERVIEW: ALASKA COURT SYSTEM                                                                                         
1:36:53 PM                                                                                                                    
DOUG WOOLIVER, DEPUTY  ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTOR, ALASKA COURT                                                                    
SYSTEM, introduced  his colleague. He provided  a PowerPoint                                                                    
presentation  titled  "Alaska  Court System:  House  Finance                                                                    
Committee Alaska  Court System  Overview" dated  January 30,                                                                    
2014  (copy  on  file).  He read  the  department's  mission                                                                    
statement on slide 2:                                                                                                           
     The mission  of the Alaska  Court System is  to provide                                                                    
     an  accessible   and  impartial  forum  for   the  just                                                                    
     resolution of  all cases  that come  before it,  and to                                                                    
     decide  such   cases  in   accordance  with   the  law,                                                                    
     expeditiously and with integrity.                                                                                          
Mr. Wooliver relayed that like  all organizations, there was                                                                    
significant  work   done  behind   the  scenes   by  various                                                                    
divisions including personnel,  human resources, facilities,                                                                    
and fiscal;  however, the department's  sole purpose  was to                                                                    
resolve   cases.   He   moved   to  slide   3   to   discuss                                                                    
distinguishing  characteristics of  the system.  He detailed                                                                    
that  the  court system  was  almost  exclusively funded  by                                                                    
state general  fund dollars. Additionally, the  system was a                                                                    
unified  judiciary.  There were  only  a  handful of  courts                                                                    
around  the  country  that were  unified;  most  states  had                                                                    
dozens  of  county  and  municipal   courts  that  were  all                                                                    
operated  independently. He  referenced recent  testimony by                                                                    
the  Department of  Corrections Commissioner  Joseph Schmidt                                                                    
that  there   were  only  about  six   unified  correctional                                                                    
departments.  He explained  that a  unified system  provided                                                                    
efficiencies  within   the  Alaska  Court  System   and  for                                                                    
everyone else.                                                                                                                  
Mr. Wooliver  moved to slide  4 related to  the department's                                                                    
800 employees in 44 communities throughout the state:                                                                           
     · About 800 Permanent (GF-Funded)                                                                                          
     · Primarily Clerical Employees                                                                                             
     · Five Supreme Court Justices                                                                                              
     · Three Court of Appeal Judges                                                                                             
     · 42 Superior Court Judges                                                                                                 
     · 23 District Court Judges                                                                                                 
     · 51 Magistrate Judges                                                                                                     
Mr. Wooliver  elaborated that the judge  positions were both                                                                    
full  and  part-time;  some  employees  were  attorneys  and                                                                    
others were not.                                                                                                                
1:39:58 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr.  Wooliver  moved  to  slide   5  and  discussed  factors                                                                    
impacting workload. The majority  of the workload related to                                                                    
caseloads,  which  were   impacted  by  population,  police,                                                                    
economy, and  other. He  noted that there  was not  a direct                                                                    
correlation between  population and caseload, but  over time                                                                    
and in  general, cases increased with  population growth. He                                                                    
communicated that  growth in  law enforcement  efforts could                                                                    
increase  caseloads. For  example,  if  the Municipality  of                                                                    
Anchorage received a grant for  new police officers, as long                                                                    
as  there  were prosecutors  to  bring  additional cases  an                                                                    
increased number of  cases would be brought  to court. Other                                                                    
factors  such   as  economy  could  impact   caseloads.  For                                                                    
example, during  a booming economy with  many people working                                                                    
there  tended to  be  fewer problems  with  crime than  when                                                                    
there was high unemployment.  He remarked that caseloads and                                                                    
workloads were not always synonymous.                                                                                           
Mr.  Wooliver turned  to slide  6  and addressed  caseloads.                                                                    
There had been an increase in  cases in the past year due to                                                                    
an increase in felony cases and  Child in Need of Aid (CINA)                                                                    
cases. Simultaneously there had  been a decrease in district                                                                    
court  caseloads, which  had  been  surprising. He  detailed                                                                    
that minor  offenses (generally traffic cases)  were down in                                                                    
the  past  year. He  elaborated  that  the Anchorage  Police                                                                    
Department had  a backlog  of written  tickets that  had not                                                                    
been transmitted to  the court; therefore, there  had been a                                                                    
large decrease  in minor  offences in the  last part  of the                                                                    
year;  as the  tickets  were submitted,  a  large uptick  in                                                                    
offences   had  begun   to  occur.   He  pointed   out  that                                                                    
approximately  60   percent  of  all  cases   originated  in                                                                    
Southcentral  (Anchorage, Palmer,  and  Kenai Courts)  where                                                                    
most  of the  state's population  resided. He  suspected the                                                                    
number would increase in the future  as more and more of the                                                                    
department's workload was concentrated in the area.                                                                             
Mr. Wooliver  relayed that trial  rates were a  good example                                                                    
of  how  caseload  differed  from  workload  (slide  7).  He                                                                    
detailed that there could be  the same number of cases filed                                                                    
every year, but  when more cases went to  trial the workload                                                                    
increased significantly. He communicated  that over the past                                                                    
few years there had been a  steady increase in the number of                                                                    
cases going to trial; fewer  people were pleading guilty. He                                                                    
elaborated that  the increase impacted  prosecutors, defense                                                                    
attorneys, and  the court.  One of the  areas that  was most                                                                    
significantly  fiscally impacted  was jury  trial costs.  He                                                                    
shared that most  of the time if a person  plead guilty (the                                                                    
vast  majority of  all  criminal cases  were  resolved by  a                                                                    
guilty plea through  an agreement with the  prosecutor) to a                                                                    
case the  case could  not be appealed.  He noted  that there                                                                    
were  some   exceptions,  but  the   appeal  rate   for  the                                                                    
exceptions was  miniscule. An increase in  trial rate almost                                                                    
always coincided  with an increase  in cases filed  with the                                                                    
court of  appeals. He stated that  if the second half  of FY                                                                    
14  looked like  the  first  half of  the  fiscal year,  the                                                                    
numbers  would show  a 50  percent increase  in cases  filed                                                                    
with the  court of  appeals since  2011. He  summarized that                                                                    
caseload was one  measure of workload, but  trial rates were                                                                    
another; even if  cases stayed the same, more  effort may be                                                                    
1:44:54 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Wooliver  moved to a  graph on  slide 8 that  showed the                                                                    
increase  in  trial rates.  Slide  9  included a  pie  chart                                                                    
depicting  FY   14  state   fund  sources;   the  department                                                                    
represented 1.4  percent of the overall  state budget. Slide                                                                    
10 included a pie chart  showing how the agency's budget was                                                                    
broken down.  The bulk of  department costs  were associated                                                                    
with  trial courts  [79 percent].  Additionally, there  were                                                                    
costs   associated   with   administration,   appeals,   and                                                                    
appellate  and  therapeutic  courts.   Slide  11  showed  an                                                                    
alternative  way  to  breakdown  the  department's  funding;                                                                    
personal  services   accounted  for  76   percent;  services                                                                    
accounted  for 19  percent and  included leases,  contracts,                                                                    
software, and jury fees;  supplies and commodities accounted                                                                    
for  2.8 percent  and included  paper, computers,  printers,                                                                    
and  other basic  office supplies;  slightly over  1 percent                                                                    
went to department  travel for juries and  travel within the                                                                    
state for judges covering cases in different communities.                                                                       
1:46:59 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Wooliver addressed  increments funded in FY  14 on slide                                                                    
12. The  legislature had provided  funding for  bandwidth to                                                                    
increase  network transmission  speeds, therapeutic  courts,                                                                    
normal   lease  cost   increases,   software  support,   and                                                                    
accommodation  for a  judge  in Bethel.  The  current FY  15                                                                    
budget   request  included   basic  utilities,   contractual                                                                    
services;  and leases,  maintenance,  and  items related  to                                                                    
increased  cost of  doing business  (slide 13).  The request                                                                    
also  included funds  for increased  bandwidth and  expanded                                                                    
security  in  several  superior  court  locations  with  one                                                                    
judge.  He   would  provide  additional   information  about                                                                    
bandwidth during the subcommittee meeting.                                                                                      
Co-Chair Stoltze  remarked that  other agencies were  not as                                                                    
conversant with their needs. He  stated that there needed to                                                                    
be a greater  communication if the budget  process was going                                                                    
to  be holistic.  He mentioned  other entities  such as  the                                                                    
Department  of Public  Safety (DPS),  the Department  of Law                                                                    
(DOL),   the  Alaska   Court  System,   the  Department   of                                                                    
Corrections (DOC),  and the Office of  Public Advocacy (OPA)                                                                    
under the Department of Administration (DOA).                                                                                   
1:49:19 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Wooliver  continued to address slide  13. The department                                                                    
had  recently  become  responsible   for  paying  for  court                                                                    
visitors  in  conservatorship  cases. He  expounded  that  a                                                                    
conservator  was  appointed  by  a court  primarily  when  a                                                                    
person was unable  to handle their personal  finances due to                                                                    
age  or  disability.  As  part  of  the  process  the  court                                                                    
appoints  a  court  visitor  to  investigate  the  case  and                                                                    
determine that  a conservator was needed.  He explained that                                                                    
for many  years OPA had  provided a court  visitor; however,                                                                    
the agency  determined that it was  not statutorily required                                                                    
to provide  the court  visitor and  was no  longer accepting                                                                    
the  appointments. Due  to a  need, the  court continued  to                                                                    
appoint court  visitors; therefore, the court  system had to                                                                    
take  over the  responsibility. The  change had  occurred in                                                                    
August  of 2013;  when the  department submitted  its budget                                                                    
request in November the cost  had been estimated at $107,000                                                                    
per year.  In recent months  the department had  revised the                                                                    
figure to $60,000 per year.                                                                                                     
Mr. Wooliver  shared that in  July DOL had changed  its plea                                                                    
bargaining practices with respect  to a variety of different                                                                    
criminal  case  types.  He explained  that  plea  agreements                                                                    
included the crime a person  pled guilty to and the sentence                                                                    
that  would   be  given.  The   department  was   no  longer                                                                    
negotiating sentence  pleas in a variety  of cases including                                                                    
unclassified and Class A felonies  and domestic violence and                                                                    
sexual assault  cases. He explained that  typically a change                                                                    
of this type  would increase trial rates because  one of the                                                                    
incentives to plead  to a case had  been removed; therefore,                                                                    
generally a  plea was  less likely.  The department  did not                                                                    
know with  certainty that  an increase  would occur,  but it                                                                    
had accounted  for one in  its budget; the  $200,000 request                                                                    
which  was  essentially  a  placeholder  for  the  potential                                                                    
increase  and additional  jury costs.  The department  would                                                                    
continue to look  at the issue closely  to determine whether                                                                    
the funds would be needed.                                                                                                      
1:53:30 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Wooliver  directed attention  to slide 14  that included                                                                    
additional  FY  15  funding  requests.  The  slide  included                                                                    
computer  replacement  funding;   the  additional  increment                                                                    
would enable the department to  have a five-year replacement                                                                    
cycle for computers.  Also included on slide  14 was funding                                                                    
for  interpreter and  translation  services;  the court  was                                                                    
required  by   federal  law  to  provide   foreign  language                                                                    
interpreters in court proceedings.  He relayed that the need                                                                    
for interpreters  had continued to rise;  the department had                                                                    
$60,000 in its  base funding, but based on  recent growth it                                                                    
anticipated the  figure would  rise to  at least  $85,000 in                                                                    
the  coming year.  The last  increment  was for  interagency                                                                    
receipt authority  totaling $60,000  for OPA and  the Public                                                                    
Defender  Agency. He  elaborated that  the public  defender,                                                                    
DOL, and OPA received transcripts  from the court system for                                                                    
their  appeals; the  court system  received the  transcripts                                                                    
from  private  contractors  at  a  good  rate.  The  $60,000                                                                    
increase reflected  what the department was  actually paying                                                                    
for transcripts.                                                                                                                
Mr. Wooliver  provided information  on funding  changes from                                                                    
FY  06  to  FY 15  on  slide  15.  A  large portion  of  the                                                                    
department's  budget growth  was  associated with  personnel                                                                    
costs including salary and benefit  increases, new judges (8                                                                    
superior court and 3 district  court), and 33 clerical staff                                                                    
as  part  of the  and  No  Dark Courtrooms  initiative  (the                                                                    
department  was no  longer requesting  new personnel  in the                                                                    
areas). He  moved to slide  16 showing  additional increases                                                                    
since  FY 06  that  included inflationary  costs related  to                                                                    
leases,  public  building   fund  participation,  utilities,                                                                    
maintenance, software support, and therapeutic courts.                                                                          
Mr. Wooliver  discussed a graph  on slide 17 showing  a line                                                                    
item  comparison between  FY 06  and FY  15; the  green bars                                                                    
represented  personal  services.  The   graph  on  slide  18                                                                    
illustrated   the  department's   share   of  total   agency                                                                    
operations funded  by general  fund dollars;  the department                                                                    
had remained  between 2 percent  and just over  2.2 percent.                                                                    
He  detailed  that  10  years  earlier  the  department  had                                                                    
accounted  for 2.03  percent  and  currently it  represented                                                                    
2.21 percent.  Slide 19 illustrated that  general funds made                                                                    
up approximately  97 percent of the  department's budget. He                                                                    
looked  at  slide  20  showing projections  for  FY  16  and                                                                    
beyond. The  largest project the  department had  planned in                                                                    
the near  future was an  electronic document  management (e-                                                                    
filing)  system.   The  system  would  impact   all  justice                                                                    
agencies;  it   would  allow   for  electronic   filing  and                                                                    
distribution  and  management  of  all  court  records.  The                                                                    
system would have  many benefits, but would  be expensive to                                                                    
build; it  would allow for  future savings,  including fewer                                                                    
staff  needs,  faster  transmission of  information  between                                                                    
justice agencies,  improved case processing  efficiency, and                                                                    
error reduction. He stressed the  benefits of the system and                                                                    
relayed  that   it  was   currently  the   department's  top                                                                    
Mr.  Wooliver  moved  to  slide  21  that  showed  continued                                                                    
priorities for FY 16 and  beyond. He discussed the potential                                                                    
need  for more  judges  in various  communities. He  relayed                                                                    
that courts  in Juneau,  Bethel, Palmer  were very  busy; if                                                                    
caseloads  were to  increase in  the upcoming  10 years  the                                                                    
department would most likely request new judges.                                                                                
1:59:32 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Wooliver  looked at slide  22 showing a  continuation of                                                                    
FY  16  and  beyond.  Over  the  upcoming  three  years  the                                                                    
department wanted  to make improvements in  rural courts and                                                                    
in  Palmer. He  added that  growth  in the  Palmer area  was                                                                    
likely   to  increase   growth   in   the  court   facility.                                                                    
Additionally,  he  believed  the  department  would  make  a                                                                    
future request for increased  bandwidth as technology became                                                                    
a larger component in operations.                                                                                               
Mr.  Wooliver turned  to slide  23 and  addressed where  the                                                                    
department would  be if  it continued  on its  recent growth                                                                    
trajectory (represented in green).  The black line indicated                                                                    
where the department  hoped to be in relation  to growth. He                                                                    
reiterated  his earlier  testimony that  one of  the biggest                                                                    
drivers of  the department's  past cost increase  related to                                                                    
additional  personnel;  the  department did  not  anticipate                                                                    
needing  more  personnel  in  the  future.  The  black  line                                                                    
reflected initiatives  planned by  the department,  which he                                                                    
hoped  would considerable  flatten out  budgetary needs.  He                                                                    
noted that slide  24 pertaining to all  funds looked similar                                                                    
to slide  23 due to  the department's reliance  primarily on                                                                    
general funds.                                                                                                                  
2:01:14 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Austerman pointed  to slides 6 and 7  and asked for                                                                    
clarity. He  wondered how district court  caseloads could be                                                                    
down  10  percent, but  district  court  trials were  up  47                                                                    
percent. He  observed that felony  cases were up  6 percent.                                                                    
Mr.  Wooliver explained  that  district  court numbers  were                                                                    
down due to  a decrease in traffic crime  filings, which did                                                                    
not go to trial; however,  a larger percentage of cases were                                                                    
going to trial at the  misdemeanor level. He elaborated that                                                                    
district    court    misdemeanor   were    not    increasing                                                                    
substantially,  but a  higher percentage  of the  cases were                                                                    
going to trial.                                                                                                                 
Representative Edgmon asked if  there was a correlation with                                                                    
plea  bargain arrangements  discussed earlier.  Mr. Wooliver                                                                    
replied  that the  department was  working to  determine the                                                                    
answer. He detailed  that the new plea policy  had only been                                                                    
in effect for a few months  and many felony cases took a few                                                                    
months   to   move   forward;  therefore,   the   data   was                                                                    
undetermined  at  present.  The  department  anticipated  an                                                                    
increased number of trials as a  result, but it did not have                                                                    
a number at the time.                                                                                                           
Representative Wilson discussed the  impact jury duty had on                                                                    
teachers during the  school year; when teachers  were out of                                                                    
a classroom  in court  it took time  away from  the students                                                                    
and teaching.  She wondered about  a possible  exemption for                                                                    
teachers during  the school year  especially in  rural areas                                                                    
were substitutes were not available.                                                                                            
Mr. Wooliver  believed that a  provision in  statute allowed                                                                    
teachers to  be excused from  jury duty. He would  follow up                                                                    
with  confirmation. He  acknowledged  that jury  duty was  a                                                                    
huge burden  particularly in  rural Alaska.  He communicated                                                                    
that jury burnout was a  significant problem particularly in                                                                    
the Bethel area where  potential jurors served for one-month                                                                    
periods.  He  explained that  in  some  parts of  the  state                                                                    
individuals were  on jury duty  for a year. He  relayed that                                                                    
the  chief justice  had recently  appointed  a committee  of                                                                    
judges and  jury clerks to  determine better ways  to manage                                                                    
juries  because as  the trial  rate  went up  the burden  on                                                                    
jurors increased.                                                                                                               
2:05:23 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative   Wilson  asked   about  driving   under  the                                                                    
influence (DUI)  offences. She wondered why  a person trying                                                                    
to get their  license back had to go through  a process with                                                                    
Division of  Motor Vehicles (DMV)  in addition to  the court                                                                    
Mr.  Wooliver  replied  that  there  was  an  administrative                                                                    
revocation that DMV  issued as well as a  criminal case that                                                                    
could be brought; the two  issues were separate. He believed                                                                    
DOL could provide a better answer. He would follow up.                                                                          
Representative  Wilson  restated  her  prior  question.  She                                                                    
asked if  the increase in felony  and CINA cases was  due to                                                                    
recent laws or other. Mr.  Wooliver did not know the reason.                                                                    
He replied  that there were  many theories about  the reason                                                                    
for the increase. He explained  that it was more complicated                                                                    
than  it seemed  to figure  out  which cases  were going  to                                                                    
trial, which were not, or other.                                                                                                
Representative Wilson noted that it  was difficult to fix an                                                                    
issue if the data behind the problem was not known.                                                                             
Representative  Gara heard  from lawyers  that as  sentences                                                                    
had increased  for many crimes,  people were more  likely to                                                                    
go  to trial  because  stakes were  higher.  He wondered  if                                                                    
there  was  evidence to  back  up  the claim.  Mr.  Wooliver                                                                    
answered  that  an  increase  in  sentences  was  likely  to                                                                    
increase  trial  rates  because there  was  more  at  stake.                                                                    
However,  he  did  not   know  whether  increased  penalties                                                                    
(particularly   for  sex   offences  where   penalties  were                                                                    
increased significantly)  had resulted in more  trials. From                                                                    
the  department's perspective  it was  interesting to  know,                                                                    
but he  observed that from the  legislature's perspective it                                                                    
mattered greatly  whether statutory  changes had led  to the                                                                    
increase.  The department  continuing to  look at  the trial                                                                    
rate  data.  He  added  that  increased  trial  rates  meant                                                                    
increased appeal  rates. The department hoped  to narrow the                                                                    
options that could be resulting in increased trial rates.                                                                       
Representative   Gara   believed   Representative   Wilson's                                                                    
question related  to DUI cases  was important.  He explained                                                                    
that courts  imposed sentences  and license  revocations for                                                                    
DUIs,  but DMV  had a  lower evidence  threshold; therefore,                                                                    
DMV often took away a  person's license without a conviction                                                                    
and could suspend  a person's license longer  than the court                                                                    
system did.  He continued  that the situation  caused people                                                                    
to have  trouble getting to  work. He wanted to  discuss the                                                                    
issue further with DMV.                                                                                                         
Vice-Chair Neuman  discussed his prior work  in 2005/2006 on                                                                    
the  passage of  Jessica's law  that doubled  the amount  of                                                                    
mandatory sentencing for  sexual abuse offenders (especially                                                                    
for  crimes  involving child  victims).  He  added that  the                                                                    
prior  year the  governor  had passed  legislation with  his                                                                    
Choose  Respect campaign  that  further increased  mandatory                                                                    
time for  sexual abuse offences. He  referred to substantial                                                                    
fiscal notes  tied to  the laws that  were supposed  to help                                                                    
for  increased   costs;  however,   he  observed   that  the                                                                    
department was requesting additional  funds due to increased                                                                    
costs  for sentencing  in the  courts. He  wondered why  the                                                                    
department was asking for more money.                                                                                           
Mr. Wooliver would follow up on the issue.                                                                                      
Vice-Chair  Neuman  asked  about the  court's  current  drug                                                                    
offence  caseload. Mr.  Wooliver  stated that  he had  heard                                                                    
from judges that most crimes  were associated with substance                                                                    
abuse  in  some way  (e.g.  assault  and theft  crimes).  He                                                                    
explained  that  the  department's database  did  not  track                                                                    
whether a theft crime was related to drugs.                                                                                     
Vice-Chair Neuman  remarked that  he would continue  to work                                                                    
with  the department  on reducing  drug  cases. He  remarked                                                                    
that the issue effected the state's entire budget.                                                                              
2:13:11 PM                                                                                                                    
^BUDGET OVERVIEW: DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME                                                                                 
2:13:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CORA  CAMPBELL, COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT OF  FISH AND  GAME                                                                    
(DFG),   introduced  staff.   She   provided  a   PowerPoint                                                                    
presentation  titled "Alaska  Department  of  Fish and  Game                                                                    
House Finance  Committee Overview"  (copy on file).  Slide 2                                                                    
included  the department's  mission  statement and  relevant                                                                    
statutory references.  Slide 3 listed the  department's core                                                                    
services   including   management,  stock   assessment   and                                                                    
research, and  customer service and public  involvement. She                                                                    
relayed  that the  department's activities  and expenditures                                                                    
were all tied to the  core services. An organizational chart                                                                    
showing  the department's  six divisions,  one section,  and                                                                    
two independent  agencies was included  on slide 4.  Slide 5                                                                    
included a  map of  the department's  permanent geographical                                                                    
Commissioner Campbell relayed  that upcoming slides provided                                                                    
an  overview of  each division  and its  relative size.  She                                                                    
turned to slide  6 related to the  DFG Commissioner's Office                                                                    
that  accounted for  1 percent  of the  department's budget.                                                                    
The  Division of  Commercial Fisheries  was responsible  for                                                                    
management  of  commercial,  subsistence, and  marine  water                                                                    
personal-use   fisheries;   the   division   accounted   for                                                                    
approximately 34 percent of the  total DFG budget (slide 7).                                                                    
She pointed  to a  graph on slide  8 showing  the "exvessel"                                                                    
value of  commercial harvests and mariculture  production in                                                                    
Alaska; the total value had been  well over the target of $1                                                                    
billion for a number of years.  She noted that the graph had                                                                    
not yet been  expanded to include 2013  values. She detailed                                                                    
that 2013  would have a  near record harvest value  for both                                                                    
salmon and shell fish, powered  primarily by the record pink                                                                    
salmon harvest  in several  areas of the  state in  the past                                                                    
2:16:45 PM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner Campbell  discussed the Division of  Sport Fish                                                                    
on slide 9. The division  was responsible for managing sport                                                                    
and  several   personal-use  fisheries;  it   accounted  for                                                                    
approximately  23  percent  of  the  department's  operating                                                                    
budget. One  of the  metrics used  to evaluate  the division                                                                    
pertained to the sales of  fishing licenses; post 2008 there                                                                    
had  been  a  measurable   drop  in  sales  of  non-resident                                                                    
licenses (slide  10). The department  had been  tracking the                                                                    
licenses, which had  a slight rebound in sales  in 2013; the                                                                    
DFG goal was to increase license sales back to 2008 levels.                                                                     
Commissioner  Campbell addressed  the  Division of  Wildlife                                                                    
Conservation  on slide  11. The  division  accounted for  22                                                                    
percent of  the department's budget and  was responsible for                                                                    
managing  general  and   subsistence  hunting  and  trapping                                                                    
opportunities.  Slide  12  included a  graph  depicting  the                                                                    
sales of  hunting and trapping  licenses from 2008  to 2013;                                                                    
sales  of   these  licenses   had  remained   steadier.  She                                                                    
explained  that   resident  license  sales   far  outweighed                                                                    
nonresident  sales.  She  added that  non-resident  licenses                                                                    
were also an important component.                                                                                               
Commissioner   Campbell   highlighted    the   Division   of                                                                    
Subsistence  on  slide  13. The  division  accounted  for  4                                                                    
percent of  the department's budget; it  was responsible for                                                                    
research   including  the   collection  of   information  on                                                                    
customary  and   traditional  use   of  fish   and  wildlife                                                                    
resources.  Performance measurement  looked at  how many  of                                                                    
the   department's   management   plans   had   incorporated                                                                    
subsistence  information  (slide  14).  She  turned  to  the                                                                    
Division  of Habitat  that accounted  for 3  percent of  the                                                                    
department's operating budget.  The division was responsible                                                                    
for   issuing  permits   for  activities   in  fish-bearing,                                                                    
anadromous, and special area waters;  over 4,000 permits had                                                                    
been  issued in  2013. Slide  16 illustrated  the number  of                                                                    
permit   holders  in   compliance  with   permit  conditions                                                                    
designed  to protect  fish wildlife.  The division's  target                                                                    
was  100  percent  compliance; the  figure  had  been  99.78                                                                    
percent  in  2013.   The  Administrative  Services  Division                                                                    
accounted for 6 percent of  the operating budget. The Boards                                                                    
Support Section accounted for 1  percent of the department's                                                                    
operating  budget and  provided  logistical  support to  the                                                                    
regulatory  processes of  the  Board of  Fish  and Board  of                                                                    
Game.  She  detailed  that  in  FY  13  there  had  been  49                                                                    
regulatory  meeting days  between  the two  boards; the  two                                                                    
boards  had considered  over  400  proposals for  regulatory                                                                    
2:20:42 PM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner  Campbell looked  at  slide 19  related to  the                                                                    
Commercial Fisheries  Entry Commission and the  Exxon Valdez                                                                    
Oil  Spill  Trustee  Council;  the  agencies  accounted  for                                                                    
approximately 2 percent  and 1 percent of  the DFG operating                                                                    
budget respectively.                                                                                                            
Commissioner Campbell addressed slide  20 that showed the FY                                                                    
15 budget by division and fund  source. The pie chart on the                                                                    
left  illustrated   that  the   bulk  of   the  department's                                                                    
operating  funds   went  to   its  three   large  management                                                                    
divisions.  The chart  on  the right  showed  the budget  by                                                                    
funding  source; the  most  important  funding sources  were                                                                    
general and  federal funds and  the Fish and Game  Fund. She                                                                    
elaborated that  the federal funding  component was  made up                                                                    
of a  number of  discrete funding sources  including federal                                                                    
excise taxes.  She expounded that the  excise taxes included                                                                    
Pittman-Robertson  funds that  came from  taxes on  sales of                                                                    
firearms  and  ammunition,  which  funded  the  Division  of                                                                    
Wildlife  Conservation and  from Dingell-Johnson  funds that                                                                    
came  from the  sales  of fishing  tackle  and boat  motors,                                                                    
which funded  the Division of  Sport Fish. She  relayed that                                                                    
in  the past  couple  of years  Pittman-Robertson funds  had                                                                    
increased due to national political  events that had sparked                                                                    
an  increase  in  the  purchase   of  guns  and  ammunition,                                                                    
whereas, Dingell-Johnson funds  had decreased. Other federal                                                                    
funds  were received  through  the  Department of  Commerce,                                                                    
Community  and Economic  Development  (DCCED) for  fisheries                                                                    
management  functions   and  marine  mammal   research.  She                                                                    
summarized that  the federal funds  and Fish and  Game funds                                                                    
made  up  a  significant  portion  of  the  budget  for  the                                                                    
Division of Wildlife Conservation  and the Division of Sport                                                                    
Fish. The primary funds came from a user-pay system.                                                                            
2:23:36 PM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner Campbell  pointed to slide 21  showing that the                                                                    
bulk of  the department's staff  worked in the  three larger                                                                    
management divisions.  The department  had a total  of 1,683                                                                    
positions; 930  were full-time. She  noted that many  of the                                                                    
department's  staff were  seasonal fieldwork  employees. She                                                                    
turned to a  Legislative Finance Division graph  on slide 22                                                                    
that  provided a  10-year look  at  the department's  budget                                                                    
compared to all  other state agencies. She  relayed that DFG                                                                    
had  been fairly  consistent at  1.7 percent  over the  past                                                                    
seven or so  years; the figure had increased  to 1.8 percent                                                                    
in FY  14. The graph on  slide 23 showed the  percent of the                                                                    
total  department's  budget   by  fund  group.  Unrestricted                                                                    
general  funds were  illustrated  in  purple and  designated                                                                    
general  funds were  shown  in maroon.  The  portion of  the                                                                    
department's budget  made up of  federal funds  had declined                                                                    
over  the   past  10  years;   whereas  general   funds  had                                                                    
Commissioner Campbell turned to slide  24 showed a pie chart                                                                    
representing the  approximate growth  from FY  05 to  FY 15.                                                                    
The  graph helped  explain where  some of  the general  fund                                                                    
increases  had originated  and where  they  were headed;  50                                                                    
percent  of  the  growth  was   due  to  contractual  salary                                                                    
increases, 34 percent  was due to requests  for increases in                                                                    
the  governor's budget,  and the  remaining 16  percent were                                                                    
legislative additions  or reductions. Slides 25  and 26 were                                                                    
from  the   Legislative  Finance  Division  and   looked  at                                                                    
continued budget growth compared  to the 10-year plan. Slide                                                                    
25 pertained  to general funds;  the green  line represented                                                                    
the current  rate of annual  growth of 7.6  percent compared                                                                    
to  the black  line  representing  the department's  10-year                                                                    
plan.  She believed  it was  unlikely  the department  would                                                                    
continue  to see  annual growth  of 7.6  percent. She  noted                                                                    
that the  growth had  already begun to  level out.  Slide 26                                                                    
pertained  to  all funds  and  showed  a closer  correlation                                                                    
between   current  growth   and   the  department's   annual                                                                    
management plan.                                                                                                                
2:27:24 PM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner Campbell  turned to  slide 27 to  discuss major                                                                    
accomplishments in 2013:                                                                                                        
     · Intensive management and habitat enhancement                                                                             
     · Subsistence harvest surveys                                                                                              
     · Near-record value salmon and shellfish harvests                                                                          
     · Operational planning and joint biometrics                                                                                
     · Sport fish hatchery production                                                                                           
     · Advisory committee training and support                                                                                  
     · New research projects initiated                                                                                          
Commissioner  Campbell  expounded that  significant  success                                                                    
had been  shown with  the department's  intensive management                                                                    
and habitat  enhancement that had  produced high  numbers of                                                                    
moose in  Unit 20; it  had obtained objectives for  moose in                                                                    
management unit  13 and  for the  40-mile caribou  herd. The                                                                    
department  was pleased  with  intensive management  results                                                                    
where  DFG  had access  to  state  lands and  the  necessary                                                                    
resources.  She  added  that   the  department  was  working                                                                    
towards  additional habitat  improvements. She  communicated                                                                    
that substantial  work had been done  on subsistence harvest                                                                    
surveys, particularly in communities  located on the path of                                                                    
a future  gas pipeline. Additionally, salmon  and shell fish                                                                    
harvests  had   seen  a  near-record   year  in   2013.  The                                                                    
department  had  implemented  a joint  operational  planning                                                                    
process between the two fish  divisions and biometrics shop,                                                                    
which would  ensure that research  projects had  an approved                                                                    
operational  plan. The  plan would  ensure  that funds  were                                                                    
spent in the  most scientifically sound manner  and that the                                                                    
desired research results were achieved.                                                                                         
Commissioner Campbell  was pleased  with the way  sport fish                                                                    
hatcheries  were  producing;  releases from  2004  had  been                                                                    
surpassed  in  numbers  and   quality  (2004  represented  a                                                                    
benchmark  the department  was aiming  to return  to). Brood                                                                    
stock had  been collected  in 2013  to increase  the Chinook                                                                    
releases  in Southcentral;  the department  was on  track to                                                                    
release  more  than 1  million  smolt,  which represented  a                                                                    
large  increase. Additionally,  significant improvement  had                                                                    
been seen  in the size  and condition of fish  released from                                                                    
the state  hatcheries. Per request, the  department had been                                                                    
providing  training to  committees responsible  for advising                                                                    
the Boards  of Fish  and Game; a  training session  had been                                                                    
held at  a joint  board meeting  and training  materials had                                                                    
been provided to the committees.  She added that a number of                                                                    
new research  projects had been initiated  with funding from                                                                    
the latest budget.                                                                                                              
2:30:46 PM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner  Campbell addressed  issues and  challenges for                                                                    
the department  on slide 28.  She addressed  challenges with                                                                    
Chinook  salmon abundance  and productivity;  it had  been a                                                                    
challenge for residents who relied  on the salmon, which had                                                                    
been in  a period of low  abundance. Subsequently, necessary                                                                    
restrictions  had caused  severe hardships.  She planned  to                                                                    
discuss projects DFG  had initiated in order  to address the                                                                    
problem.  She  pointed  to  continued  challenges  to  state                                                                    
sovereign authority  to manage wildlife; there  continued to                                                                    
be  endangered  species  act  listings  and  proposals  that                                                                    
caused  the department  great concern.  She  noted that  the                                                                    
department was  involved in lawsuits when  necessary and had                                                                    
seen  some encouraging  victories. The  department was  also                                                                    
involved in  conducting research and  collecting information                                                                    
for species  that would allow DFG  to weigh in to  prevent a                                                                    
potential listing.  She stated that  the DFG was  working on                                                                    
delisting  species  that  had recovered.  She  relayed  that                                                                    
delisting had not been a  strength of the Endangered Species                                                                    
Act. The state had been  successful in delisting the eastern                                                                    
stock of  stellar sea  lions and was  working on  a petition                                                                    
for the humpback whale. She  spoke to preserving fishing and                                                                    
economic opportunities; it had  been working to locate areas                                                                    
where  a significant  investment  of  state resources  would                                                                    
provide  a large  opportunity payoff  for Alaskans.  Tighter                                                                    
budgets made the area increasingly challenging.                                                                                 
2:33:03 PM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner Campbell  continued with slide 28:  "Issues and                                                                    
Challenges." She mentioned that  Fish and Game Fund revenues                                                                    
that accounted  for 11 percent  of the DFG budget,  had been                                                                    
flat. She noted that DFG  tracked license sales in many ways                                                                    
and multiple factors drove the  sales (e.g. national economy                                                                    
and  opportunities provided  for hunting  and fishing).  She                                                                    
added  that several  programs  saw  declining federal  funds                                                                    
such as Dingell-Johnson funds and  funds received from DCCED                                                                    
for   the  Commercial   Fisheries  Division   including  the                                                                    
implementation of  the Pacific  Salmon Treaty  and delegated                                                                    
authority for management of  the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands                                                                    
crab  fisheries. She  pointed  out that  the department  had                                                                    
seen  an increase  in federal  Pittman-Robertson funds  from                                                                    
the  environmental  conservation  department;  however,  the                                                                    
funds required state matching funds.                                                                                            
Commissioner  Campbell discussed  slide  29: "Highlights  in                                                                    
Operating   Budget  for   FY  2015."   The  department   was                                                                    
requesting an  increase in federal  receipt authority  of $1                                                                    
million to  access some  of the  increased Pittman-Robertson                                                                    
funds. She  detailed that access  to the funds  would enable                                                                    
the  department  to  maintain   a  wide  range  of  wildlife                                                                    
resource projects  statewide. She communicated that  DFG had                                                                    
eliminated 36  vacant positions and associated  funding; the                                                                    
slide  detailed  the  fund impact  on  general  and  federal                                                                    
sources.  She   discussed  the  importance   of  maintaining                                                                    
sufficient   positions  to   implement  Chinook   initiative                                                                    
2:36:28 PM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner  Campbell continued  with  slide  30: "FY  2015                                                                    
Capital  Projects Requests."  She  addressed  a $10  million                                                                    
increment for  the Chinook Salmon Initiative's  second year.                                                                    
She pointed to  a couple of requests  pertaining to wildlife                                                                    
that  leveraged available  federal funds.  She relayed  that                                                                    
the  division  had some  prior  year  capital projects  that                                                                    
would expire;  DFG wanted  to have  the ability  to continue                                                                    
intensive  management work  that  had  been successful,  but                                                                    
would need  resources to do so.  She noted that there  was a                                                                    
50/50  match  for  intensive   management  programs  due  to                                                                    
constraints on  what the  federal funds  could be  spent on.                                                                    
The   department  wanted   to  continue   work  on   habitat                                                                    
enhancement  programs it  had  started  in partnership  with                                                                    
some landowners to increase habitat.                                                                                            
Commissioner Campbell discussed  the Chinook Salmon Research                                                                    
Initiative on  slide 31. The request  represented the second                                                                    
component  of   a  five  year  $30   million  proposal.  The                                                                    
department had  received the  first funds  on July  1, 2013.                                                                    
She detailed  that there were  12 indicator stocks  from the                                                                    
Yukon to Southeast Alaska. The  2014 projects included adult                                                                    
and  juvenile  abundance,  subsistence  harvests,  genetics,                                                                    
coded wire tagging, and other.  She pointed to a web address                                                                    
included on  the DFG webpage  that showed a summary  of each                                                                    
river system project.                                                                                                           
2:39:44 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Austerman referred  to  slide 20  that showed  the                                                                    
department's  budget by  division  and fund  source. He  had                                                                    
received several  requests for information related  to money                                                                    
the regional  aquaculture association in Kodiak  gave to DFG                                                                    
to do  work for it.  He wondered where the  component showed                                                                    
up in the department's funding structure.                                                                                       
KEVIN BROOKS,  DEPUTY COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT OF  FISH AND                                                                    
GAME,   replied  that   the  cost   would  fall   under  the                                                                    
department's general  fund program receipts (shown  in green                                                                    
on  the  right  hand  side  of  slide  20);  the  total  was                                                                    
approximately  $1.6 million  in program  receipts. He  added                                                                    
that the  other component  was statutory  designated program                                                                    
receipts  in the  amount  of $7.6  million  (shown in  light                                                                    
Co-Chair  Austerman asked  for  verification  that the  item                                                                    
could be  located in the  budget. Mr. Brooks replied  in the                                                                    
Co-Chair  Austerman asked  how many  other areas  around the                                                                    
state  had nongovernmental  entities  giving the  department                                                                    
money to  do work.  Mr. Brooks  replied that  the department                                                                    
had  a  number  of   agreements  with  non-governmental  and                                                                    
governmental    agencies   where    the   entities    worked                                                                    
collaboratively. For example,  sometimes the department paid                                                                    
an  entity  to  run  a  weir  or  for  other  work.  Revenue                                                                    
collected by  the department appeared in  designated general                                                                    
funds; expenditures showed up as contractual expenditures.                                                                      
Co-Chair Austerman  asked for  a list  of the  entities that                                                                    
provided the  funds in the  past. Mr. Brooks replied  in the                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stoltze spoke  to changes  in policy,  the ability                                                                    
for  Alaskan residents  to  access  halibut, and  continuing                                                                    
issues with Chinook  salmon. He asked how  bad the situation                                                                    
would  get  related  to licenses  as  fishing  opportunities                                                                    
diminished.  He  wondered  if  licenses  would  continue  to                                                                    
Commissioner  Campbell  replied  that it  was  difficult  to                                                                    
predict. She referred  to a definite decline  in king salmon                                                                    
license  sales, which  was clearly  related to  opportunity.                                                                    
She believed  an increased number  of people thought  it may                                                                    
not  be worth  purchasing  a king  salmon license.  However,                                                                    
resident  license sales  had been  fairly steady  over time;                                                                    
she  believed the  sales were  indicative of  a good  value.                                                                    
Non-resident   license   sales  correlated   with   national                                                                    
economic and  visitor trends. She believed  some element was                                                                    
tied  to   the  perception  of  opportunity   as  well.  The                                                                    
department  had  talked  with  other  state  agencies  about                                                                    
improving information  provided to visitors  about available                                                                    
opportunities. She  relayed that there continued  to be many                                                                    
great  sport   fishing  opportunities  in  the   state.  She                                                                    
discussed  that  during the  past  summer  when king  salmon                                                                    
restrictions  had  been in  place  the  department had  been                                                                    
liberalizing sockeye sport fisheries in many areas.                                                                             
2:45:16 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Stoltze discussed 15  percent vendor commissions on                                                                    
license sales.  He spoke  to a $9  debt service  vehicle for                                                                    
fish hatcheries. He reasoned that  the commission cost for a                                                                    
combination  of  hunting,  fishing,  trapping  for  in-state                                                                    
residents  would   be  $9.30   and  out-of-state   would  be                                                                    
approximately $25. He believed  the commission was generous.                                                                    
He spoke to  merchant sales taxes. He opined  that there was                                                                    
an incentive to vendors for  selling licenses for the state.                                                                    
He wondered  if the cost needed  to be paid. He  intended to                                                                    
pursue  the issue  with Department  of Revenue  Commissioner                                                                    
Angela Rodell as  well. He wondered if there could  be a cap                                                                    
per vendor.                                                                                                                     
Commissioner  Campbell   agreed  that  vendors   received  a                                                                    
significant benefit.  She believed there may  have been some                                                                    
misinformation  provided to  the  committee  earlier in  the                                                                    
day.  She  noted   that  Mr.  Brooks  would   speak  to  the                                                                    
Mr.  Brooks relayed  that there  was a  different commission                                                                    
schedule for  commercial, crew, and  sport licenses.  On the                                                                    
sports side the charge was 5  percent plus $1 per item sold;                                                                    
a  vendor retained  the 5  percent  commission, remitted  95                                                                    
percent to the  state, and quarterly the  state paid vendors                                                                    
$1 per item sold in  accordance with statute. The department                                                                    
sold  approximately  25,000  commercial  crew  licenses  and                                                                    
approximately 600,000 to  700,000 recreational sport hunting                                                                    
and fishing  licenses. He agreed that  vendors would receive                                                                    
a significant boost at a 15  percent level; at the 5 percent                                                                    
level, the vendors made their  money based on items sold off                                                                    
their  shelves. He  communicated that  the vendors  provided                                                                    
the  state and  the public  with  a service  by selling  the                                                                    
licenses. He did not believe  the vendors were "making bank"                                                                    
off of the 5 percent.                                                                                                           
Co-Chair  Stoltze noted  that state  employees had  provided                                                                    
different  information  earlier  in   the  day.  Mr.  Brooks                                                                    
apologized for the misinformation.                                                                                              
Co-Chair Stoltze continued to discuss  fees. He did not want                                                                    
to make  private vendors  do an  exorbitant amount  of work.                                                                    
However,  part of  the commission  was  a user  fee and  the                                                                    
other part equated to a tax  on the fish hatcheries. He felt                                                                    
less concerned by  the 5 percent than when he  had been told                                                                    
the number  was 50 percent.  He had less sympathy  for large                                                                    
box stores  compared to small  independent shops  related to                                                                    
the issue.  He discussed  that dealing with  government from                                                                    
the  perspective  of a  small  business  was cumbersome.  He                                                                    
appreciated   the   clarification    [on   the   5   percent                                                                    
2:51:43 PM                                                                                                                    
Mr.  Brooks responded  that there  were  over 1,000  license                                                                    
vendors  statewide;  the  largest  vendor  was  the  state's                                                                    
online store.  He relayed  that there  was no  commission on                                                                    
sales on  the website. He  discussed the convenience  of the                                                                    
online store.                                                                                                                   
Representative  Holmes   referred  to  a  problem   she  had                                                                    
experienced  related  to  the distribution  of  king  salmon                                                                    
stamps in  the current  year. She  wondered if  the incident                                                                    
was  isolated.  Mr. Brooks  replied  that  the incident  was                                                                    
isolated;  there  had  been no  problem  with  supplies  and                                                                    
distribution.  He offered  to follow  up  with the  specific                                                                    
Representative  Guttenberg asked  about  the  status of  the                                                                    
state's treaty with Canada over  king salmon. He believed it                                                                    
seemed  the status  may change  because  Canadians felt  the                                                                    
situation was dire.                                                                                                             
Commissioner  Campbell surmised  that  he  referring to  the                                                                    
treaty   related   to   the  Yukon   River.   Representative                                                                    
Guttenberg   replied   in  the   affirmative.   Commissioner                                                                    
Campbell   replied   that    DFG   had   heard   significant                                                                    
dissatisfaction  from individuals  on the  Canadian side  of                                                                    
the  border  that  for multiple  years  the  border  passage                                                                    
objective   had  not   been   met.  She   detailed  that   t                                                                    
he border passage objective was  a negotiated number between                                                                    
the  two  countries.  She  believed  there  was  substantial                                                                    
misunderstanding on  the Canadian  side of the  border about                                                                    
restrictions on the  US side. She did  not believe Canadians                                                                    
were  fully  informed  about the  extent  to  which  Alaskan                                                                    
fisheries had  been restricted  in an  attempt to  pass fish                                                                    
across  the  border  and  meet   the  border  passage  goal.                                                                    
Additionally, she  did not believe  Canadians were  aware of                                                                    
the  magnitude of  subsistence restrictions  in the  current                                                                    
year. The  department had spent  time the past  fall talking                                                                    
with  Canada  about  what   management  actions  in  Alaskan                                                                    
fisheries had  looked like. She communicated  that Canadians                                                                    
remained upset  about the status  of king salmon  stocks, as                                                                    
were users in Alaska. She  communicated that the harvest was                                                                    
roughly  half the  size it  had been  a decade  earlier. She                                                                    
added that the  run did not provide  harvest opportunity for                                                                    
either side of the border. She  did not know that the treaty                                                                    
status  would change;  however, there  would continue  to be                                                                    
ongoing discussions between Alaska  and Canada about harvest                                                                    
sharing and management actions.                                                                                                 
2:56:15 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Guttenberg  believed communities  along  the                                                                    
Yukon River  were attentive and cooperative  to the reports,                                                                    
restrictions,  openings,  and closings;  however,  sometimes                                                                    
they  challenged assumptions  made  by DFG.  He stated  that                                                                    
Yukoners  were  very frustrated;  he  did  not know  if  the                                                                    
frustration was  justified or not.  He noted that  there had                                                                    
been some challenges related to  the state's handling of the                                                                    
harvesting. He recalled when  former Representative Bud Fate                                                                    
had  a   large  commercial  operation  on   the  Yukon;  the                                                                    
commercial opportunity no longer existed in the area.                                                                           
Commissioner Campbell agreed. She  elaborated that the lower                                                                    
Yukon had relied on a  commercial fishery for Chinook salmon                                                                    
in the  past, which  was no longer  available. Additionally,                                                                    
subsistence  fishing was  no longer  available. She  relayed                                                                    
that some  innovations in the  past summer had  allowed chum                                                                    
salmon fishing with dip nets.  She acknowledged that a great                                                                    
deal of concern existed, which she believed was justified.                                                                      
Representative  Gara believed  fishing  was  crucial to  the                                                                    
state. He spoke to the  importance of protecting the state's                                                                    
abundance  of  fish in  order  to  prevent disputes  between                                                                    
various  types of  fisheries.  He pointed  to  slide 29  and                                                                    
noted   that  historically   the  state   had  been   losing                                                                    
biologists  who  worked  to protect  the  state's  fisheries                                                                    
because federal positions  paid an extra 25  percent cost of                                                                    
living adjustment (COLA) that the  state could not match. He                                                                    
wondered   if  any   of   the   eliminated  positions   were                                                                    
Commissioner  Campbell replied  that all  of the  eliminated                                                                    
positions had been  vacant for quite some time.  She did not                                                                    
currently  have the  description  detail  on the  eliminated                                                                    
positions.  There had  been some  vacant  fish and  wildlife                                                                    
technician positions on the elimination list.                                                                                   
Representative Gara  understood that the department  had not                                                                    
laid the  employees off. He  believed some of  the positions                                                                    
were  empty  because  the  federal  government  paid  higher                                                                    
wages.  He was  concerned about  losing more  biologists. He                                                                    
reiterated his  question about how many  biologist positions                                                                    
had been eliminated.                                                                                                            
Commissioner Campbell would follow up with the detail.                                                                          
3:01:09 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Gara   remarked  that  he  had   received  a                                                                    
multitude  of emails  over  the year  related  to the  Kenai                                                                    
River  dip net  fishery. He  understood that  the issue  was                                                                    
volatile between various groups.  He believed the department                                                                    
aimed for an 800,000  sockeye escapement; however, the river                                                                    
could handle much  more. He noted that 1.3  million fish had                                                                    
returned in  the current  year, which  was positive.  He was                                                                    
concerned that  if DFG aimed  at a  number that was  too low                                                                    
the fish  were caught before  they reached the  river, which                                                                    
prevented dip  net fisherpersons  from catching any.  He had                                                                    
heard many stories  about people who did  not catch anything                                                                    
dip  netting in  the current  year. He  wondered if  DFG had                                                                    
influence over the issue.                                                                                                       
Commissioner  Campbell did  not believe  it was  accurate to                                                                    
say  that  the  department  was shooting  for  800,000.  She                                                                    
expounded that due  to user dissatisfaction DFG  had taken a                                                                    
look at the  fishery in the current year.  She detailed that                                                                    
it was  possible to  track sockeye  numbers compared  to the                                                                    
past several years. She explained  in the past several years                                                                    
sockeye entering the river had  coincided with weekend days;                                                                    
however, that had  not been the case  in 2013. Subsequently,                                                                    
people had not been present at  the time the fish had poured                                                                    
into the river. She expounded  that the low catch related to                                                                    
timing and was  not caused by a lack of  abundance. The 2013                                                                    
harvest  had  been  around  350,000   fish,  which  was  low                                                                    
compared  to prior  years.  The reason  was  not related  to                                                                    
aiming at a  number that was too low.  She communicated that                                                                    
it was  not possible  to have complete  control over  all of                                                                    
the  things that  influence how  fish enter  the river.  She                                                                    
believed  the  Board of  Fish  would  talk about  management                                                                    
measures for the fishery at its upcoming meeting.                                                                               
3:05:19 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Gara remarked  that  there were  individuals                                                                    
who did not  have the luxury of owning an  expensive boat to                                                                    
fish on. He hoped the  department would look at options that                                                                    
were fair to  all user groups. He  remarked that individuals                                                                    
fishing from shore  were not successful on  days where there                                                                    
was  a commercial  opening. He  did not  know why  hostility                                                                    
existed between  user groups,  but wondered  if DFG  had any                                                                    
control over the  boat speed in the area in  order to reduce                                                                    
wake in areas where people were fishing from shore.                                                                             
Commissioner  Campbell replied  that  the  issue would  most                                                                    
likely fall  under the purview  of the Department  of Public                                                                    
Safety (DPS).                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair  Stoltze remarked  that DPS  and the  Department of                                                                    
Natural Resources (DNR) had  jurisdiction over state boating                                                                    
Representative Gara  noted he would  speak to DNR  about the                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stoltze discussed  the  issue further.  He told  a                                                                    
story related to fishing tensions in the area.                                                                                  
Representative Gara agreed that  the issue was obnoxious and                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stoltze interjected  that the  situation was  also                                                                    
Representative Gara  continued that people without  boats or                                                                    
set  net licenses  only  had the  opportunity  to fish  from                                                                    
shore.  He stated  that it  was not  funny when  individuals                                                                    
were forced  to spend one quarter  of their time out  of the                                                                    
water because they were swamped  by boats. He understood the                                                                    
department  did  not  have  jurisdiction  over  boat  wakes;                                                                    
however, he  requested that DFG  work with  the commissioner                                                                    
of  DNR to  address the  problem. He  stated that  a limited                                                                    
fish  supply combined  with mistreatment  by boat  users was                                                                    
not right.                                                                                                                      
Co-Chair  Stoltze  noted  that   the  committee  would  also                                                                    
address commercial  enforcement actions  with DPS.  He could                                                                    
not believe that there were  zero offences. He referred to a                                                                    
constant  demand to  have troopers  check  every person.  He                                                                    
spoke to the importance of user compliance.                                                                                     
3:09:49 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Edgmon  addressed cost recovery. He  spoke to                                                                    
fisheries in Bristol Bay and  Southeast that were faced with                                                                    
"fishing" for some of their  budget. He spoke to a situation                                                                    
that   occurred  during   a   prior   year  Senate   Finance                                                                    
Subcommittee.  He wondered  if  the situation  arose at  the                                                                    
behest of the department.                                                                                                       
Commissioner Campbell replied that  DFG had been working for                                                                    
several  years to  get  away from  test  fishing or  revenue                                                                    
fishing.  She elaborated  that  DFG  conducted test  fishing                                                                    
when working to  learn something about abundance  or what it                                                                    
could set a quota at. She  detailed that DFG had been trying                                                                    
to get  away from  harvesting fish  that could  otherwise be                                                                    
harvested  by a  user-group to  fund the  operations of  the                                                                    
department; the decision had been  made in subcommittee. She                                                                    
added that neither the governor  nor the department had made                                                                    
the request.                                                                                                                    
Representative Edgmon  relayed that he planned  to work with                                                                    
the subcommittee chairman on the  issue. He underscored that                                                                    
the issue  had created angst  and anxiety in his  region. He                                                                    
stated  that $200,000  represented  a large  portion of  the                                                                    
local budget in Bristol Bay.                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Stoltze invited committee members  to sit in on the                                                                    
DFG subcommittee hearings.                                                                                                      
3:13:06 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Neuman  referred  to fishing  license  sales  on                                                                    
slide  10. He  remarked  that  a large  portion  of the  DFG                                                                    
budget   depended   on   user-pay   and   federal   Pittman-                                                                    
Robertson/Dingell-Johnson  funds. He  believed factoring  in                                                                    
population  growth combined  with  a flat  rate of  resident                                                                    
fishing  license sales  indicated negative  growth on  a per                                                                    
capita  basis. He  shared  that  he had  not  bought a  king                                                                    
salmon stamp in the current  year because there had not been                                                                    
any  salmon  available. He  communicated  that  in the  past                                                                    
couple of  years Mat-Su  had estimated  an economic  loss in                                                                    
excess  of  $100 million  due  to  the  lack of  salmon.  He                                                                    
discussed  the governor's  declaration  of  disaster in  the                                                                    
state's  fisheries. He  noted that  people continued  to buy                                                                    
fewer and  fewer licenses  due to actions  taken by  DFG. He                                                                    
asked the  department to talk  about efforts by  the federal                                                                    
government  to   absorb  Pittman-Robertson  funds   to  fund                                                                    
federal government  management "takeover" in all  states. He                                                                    
wondered if  the department  had examined  how it  made fish                                                                    
management  decisions. He  stated that  there was  a general                                                                    
belief  in   the  department   (specifically  by   the  lead                                                                    
biologist)  that over  escapement  was a  negative thing  in                                                                    
tributaries. He opined  that the view was  objective and not                                                                    
shared  by many  other marine  biologists. He  detailed that                                                                    
the idea  was that if  there were less fish,  increasing the                                                                    
number  of spawning  fish would  help with  the problem.  He                                                                    
stated  that  very few  of  the  Mat-Su tributaries  receive                                                                    
minimum  escapement  goals set  by  DFG.  He reiterated  his                                                                    
question   about   the  department's   internal   management                                                                    
practices.  He noted  that DFG  had committed  to conducting                                                                    
economic viability  sport fishing surveys every  five years.                                                                    
He stated  that the  surveys had not  been conducted  in the                                                                    
past  five years  and wondered  if  one would  occur in  the                                                                    
current year.                                                                                                                   
Commissioner  Campbell  replied  that the  department  often                                                                    
asked for outside expertise  to review management practices,                                                                    
escapement goals,  sonar projects, and  other. Additionally,                                                                    
DFG   frequently   used   outside  expertise   on   new   or                                                                    
controversial projects.  The department had  requested funds                                                                    
the prior  year to  repeat the sport  fishing survey  at the                                                                    
five-year  interval;  however,  the  request  had  not  been                                                                    
funded by the legislature.                                                                                                      
Vice-Chair   Neuman  requested   copies   of  the   [outside                                                                    
expertise]   peer  reviews   related   to  over   escapement                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stoltze  discussed  a   Wasilla  meeting  where  a                                                                    
biologist  had expressed  more  concern about  nonattainment                                                                    
than  over escapement.  He had  not heard  the comment  from                                                                    
state biologists prior  to the meeting; he had  felt a sense                                                                    
of relief at the meeting when  the comment had been made. He                                                                    
discussed  nonattainment and  threats  to  mixed stocks  and                                                                    
reaching a point of irreparability.                                                                                             
Vice-Chair  Neuman  agreed.  He commented  that  there  were                                                                    
plenty of  Alaskan families who  would love to eat  the fish                                                                    
if DFG was worried about over escapement.                                                                                       
Commissioner  Campbell   agreed  that  generally   the  view                                                                    
throughout  the  department  was that  nonattainment  was  a                                                                    
greater concern.                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze interjected  that the  view was  not heard                                                                    
very often.  He stated that the  concern typically discussed                                                                    
by  DFG  pertained to  over  escapement.  He referred  to  a                                                                    
reciprocity  statute that  had passed  related to  the Yukon                                                                    
and Alaska for equal license  treatment. The deal had looked                                                                    
good  for Alaskans  (less than  50,000 people  in the  Yukon                                                                    
versus   700,000-plus   in   Alaska);   however,   Southeast                                                                    
residents  had reported  "floods" of  individuals coming  in                                                                    
from the  Yukon. He  wondered if  the state  should reassess                                                                    
the issue or consider a sunset date.                                                                                            
Commissioner  Campbell would  be interested  knowing whether                                                                    
the   legislature  had   an  interest   in  continuing   the                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stoltze   needed  further  information   from  the                                                                    
department on  whether the agreement  had been a  good deal.                                                                    
He stated that the legislature  was interested in an opinion                                                                    
from the department.                                                                                                            
Commissioner  Campbell answered  that the  Upper Lynn  Canal                                                                    
Fish  and  Game  Advisory  Committee,  which  was  the  most                                                                    
affected group, had requested that  the program be repealed.                                                                    
Subsequently, DFG had  looked at the cost  of the reciprocal                                                                    
licenses  and had  determined that  the benefit  to Alaskans                                                                    
was  limited. She  stated that  opportunity  on the  Alaskan                                                                    
side of the border was  much greater; therefore, the benefit                                                                    
had  been to  Canadians fishing  in Alaskan  waters and  not                                                                    
vice versa.                                                                                                                     
Co-Chair Stoltze  did not  want to get  into a  dispute with                                                                    
the  Yukon;  however,  he   believed  sometimes  policy  was                                                                    
enacted without thinking it through.  He did not believe the                                                                    
department had advocated for  the reciprocity program, which                                                                    
had preceded Commissioner Campbell.  He asked the department                                                                    
provide its opinion.                                                                                                            
3:22:46 PM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner  Campbell   replied  that  DFG   had  conducted                                                                    
analysis on  the participants and  cost of the  program. She                                                                    
would provide the committee with the information.                                                                               
Co-Chair Stoltze referenced  the department's testimony that                                                                    
it had  received $7.5 million  of a $10 million  request for                                                                    
Chinook research  efforts. He  believed the  legislature had                                                                    
funded  the  full $10  million  for  a more  general  salmon                                                                    
research category.                                                                                                              
Commissioner Campbell  agreed. She  detailed that  there had                                                                    
been  an  interest  in broadening  research  beyond  Chinook                                                                    
salmon;  the  full  amount had  been  appropriated  for  the                                                                    
broader range of research.                                                                                                      
Co-Chair  Stoltze  added that  the  request  had been  fully                                                                    
funded. Commissioner Campbell agreed.                                                                                           
Representative  Gara  mentioned  the dwindling  king  salmon                                                                    
population.  He referred  to  an  "odd" federal  subsistence                                                                    
rule. He discussed a former  constituent living in the rural                                                                    
community  of   Emmonak  who  had  wanted   to  barter  when                                                                    
subsistence  fishing had  been allowed.  Had been  told that                                                                    
she could  only barter  with rural  Alaska where  costs were                                                                    
much higher.  He wondered if  the state  subsistence fishery                                                                    
had the same bartering limitation.                                                                                              
Commissioner Campbell  replied that  the rules  on customary                                                                    
trade and  barter were complex  and had a long  history. She                                                                    
detailed   that   the   state  subsistence   law   did   not                                                                    
differentiate  between rural  and  non-rural residents;  the                                                                    
rule was a federal construct.                                                                                                   
Representative Gara asked for  verification that it would be                                                                    
allowed if  someone from Emmonak  could barter  with someone                                                                    
in Anchorage who went to Costco.                                                                                                
Commissioner Campbell would need to look into the issue.                                                                        
Co-Chair Stoltze  remarked that Mike Smith,  a former member                                                                    
of the  Board of  Fish and of  the federal  fish subsistence                                                                    
federal  board  was  present  in   the  room.  He  suggested                                                                    
Representative Gara speak with him after the meeting.                                                                           
Representative Gara  asked DFG to  follow up with  a written                                                                    
answer  to his  question related  to state  subsistence law.                                                                    
Commissioner Campbell replied that she would follow up.                                                                         
3:27:50 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Stoltze discussed the Board of Fish process and                                                                        
its challenges.                                                                                                                 
HB 266 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                              
HB 267 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                              
3:29:07 PM                                                                                                                    
The meeting was adjourned at 3:29 p.m.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Alaska Court System House Finance Overview 1 30 14 Final.pdf HFIN 1/30/2014 1:30:00 PM
Court System Overview HFIN
ADF&G FY2015 Budget Overview.pdf HFIN 1/30/2014 1:30:00 PM
DFG Overview HFIN
Courts Overview Response HFIN .pdf HFIN 1/30/2014 1:30:00 PM
Courts Response HFIN Overview
DFG-H Fin. Response Letter.pdf HFIN 1/30/2014 1:30:00 PM
DFG Overview Response HFIN
DFG Attachment C - Reciprocal Licenses.pdf HFIN 1/30/2014 1:30:00 PM
DFG Attachment B - SDPR, GFPR Projects.pdf HFIN 1/30/2014 1:30:00 PM
DFG Attachment A - Deleted PCN Detail.pdf HFIN 1/30/2014 1:30:00 PM