Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 124

04/25/2005 01:00 PM RESOURCES


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HCR 9 AGRICULTURE DAY TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+= HB 269 HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE RELEASE LIABILITY TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+= HB 241 BOARD OF FISHERIES CONFLICTS OF INTEREST TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 25, 2005                                                                                         
                           1:11 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Jay Ramras, Co-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Ralph Samuels, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Jim Elkins                                                                                                       
Representative Carl Gatto                                                                                                       
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux                                                                                                 
Representative Kurt Olson                                                                                                       
Representative Harry Crawford                                                                                                   
Representative Mary Kapsner                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Paul Seaton                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 9                                                                                               
Proclaiming Alaska Agriculture Day for 2005 and 2006.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HCR 9 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 241                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to participation in matters before the Board of                                                                
Fisheries by members of the board; and providing for an                                                                         
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 269                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to contribution actions relating to the release                                                                
of a hazardous substance; and providing for an effective date."                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 269 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HCR  9                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: AGRICULTURE DAY                                                                                                    
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) GATTO                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
04/15/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/15/05       (H)       RES                                                                                                    
04/22/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
04/22/05       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/25/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 241                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: BOARD OF FISHERIES CONFLICTS OF INTEREST                                                                           
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) WILSON                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
04/01/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/01/05       (H)       FSH, RES                                                                                               
04/13/05       (H)       FSH AT 8:30 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
04/13/05       (H)       Moved CSHB 241(FSH) Out of Committee                                                                   
04/13/05       (H)       MINUTE(FSH)                                                                                            
04/14/05       (H)       FSH RPT CS(FSH) 5DP 1NR                                                                                
04/14/05       (H)       DP: WILSON, HARRIS, ELKINS, LEDOUX,                                                                    
                         THOMAS;                                                                                                
04/14/05       (H)       NR: SALMON                                                                                             
04/18/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
04/18/05       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/22/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
04/22/05       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/25/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 269                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE RELEASE LIABILITY                                                                              
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) RAMRAS                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
04/14/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/14/05       (H)       RES, JUD                                                                                               
04/22/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
04/22/05       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/25/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PEGGY WILSON                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented HB 241 as sponsor.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
JOHN WHITE                                                                                                                      
Bethel, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 241.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
PAUL SHADURA                                                                                                                    
Kenai Peninsula Fisherman's Association                                                                                         
Kenai, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 241.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
RICKY GEASE, Executive Director                                                                                                 
Kenai River Sport Fishing Association                                                                                           
Kenai, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 241.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
JERRY MCCUNE                                                                                                                    
United Fishermen of Alaska                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of the concept of HB
241.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PAT CARTER                                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Expressed concerns with HB 241.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
LARRY ENGLE                                                                                                                     
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 241.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
JOHN JENSEN, Commercial Fisherman, Board member                                                                                 
Board of Fisheries                                                                                                              
Petersburg, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 241.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CARL CROME, Commercial Fisherman                                                                                                
Petersburg, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 241.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
GARY SLAVEN, Commercial Fisherman                                                                                               
Petersburg, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 241.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
STEVEN DAUGHERTY, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                    
Alaska Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding HB 241.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER YUHAS, Executive Director                                                                                              
Alaska Outdoor Council                                                                                                          
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HB 241.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
JANE PIERSON, Staff                                                                                                             
to Representative Jay Ramras                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented HB  269 on behalf of Representative                                                               
Ramras, sponsor.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
BENJAMIN BROWN, Legislative Liaison                                                                                             
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)                                                                                  
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified  that HB 269 will  prevent a future                                                               
problem  based  on  this  "arcane  interpretation"  by  the  U.S.                                                               
Supreme Court.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
BRETT TOSTEVIN, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                      
Civil Division                                                                                                                  
Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                         
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 269.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
GEORGE LYLE, Private Attorney                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 269.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  JAY   RAMRAS  called   the  House   Resources  Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order at  1:11:37  PM.    Representatives                                                             
Gatto, Samuels, Elkins,  Kapsner, and Ramras were  present at the                                                               
call  to  order.   Representatives  Olson,  Crawford, and  LeDoux                                                               
arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HCR  9-AGRICULTURE DAY                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE   CONCURRENT  RESOLUTION  NO.  9,   Proclaiming  Alaska                                                               
Agriculture Day for 2005 and 2006.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CARL GATTO,  Alaska State  Legislature, spoke  of                                                               
the work  of farmers  in Alaska.   He said his  best friend  is a                                                               
farmer and owns  patents on crops.  A good  year nets $30,000, he                                                               
noted,  and  the  amount  of  work for  a  farmer  in  Alaska  is                                                               
substantial.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  SAMUELS moved  to report  HCR 9  out of  committee with                                                               
individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no objection, HCR 9 was passed out of committee.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HB 241-BOARD OF FISHERIES CONFLICTS OF INTEREST                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SAMUELS announced that the  next order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 241   "An  Act relating  to participation  in                                                               
matters before  the Board of  Fisheries by members of  the board;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PEGGY  WILSON, Alaska  State Legislature,  said HB
241  implements  changes recommended  by  the  Joint Salmon  Task                                                               
Force.    She stated  that  the  Board  of  Fisheries is  not  as                                                               
effective as it could be  because some of the knowledgeable board                                                               
members are  conflicted out.   Even with  only a perception  of a                                                               
conflict of interest,  members excuse themselves, she  said.  All                                                               
board members' expertise should be  used during board business to                                                               
make the  most informed  decisions, she opined.   She  noted that                                                               
legislators  can   participate  when   they  have   conflicts  of                                                               
interest.    The  conflicted board  members  can't  even  discuss                                                               
issues  or go  on  record, so  this bill  allows  all members  to                                                               
participate in spite of conflicts of interest, she concluded.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked about the Board of Game.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON said she has  more fishing interests in her                                                               
district,  and the  Salmon Task  Force recommended  this for  the                                                               
Board  or Fish.   She  said she  is open  to amendments,  but she                                                               
thinks it  is important that  the expertise of the  board members                                                               
is not stifled and gets on the record.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SAMUELS  said that one  difference between the  Board of                                                               
Fish  and the  Legislature is  a board  member has  a one-seventh                                                               
voting power, and it is one in forty for a representative.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:21:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  WHITE, Bethel,  said he  is a  past chair  of the  Board of                                                               
Fisheries.   He said Alaska  has the finest  fisheries regulatory                                                               
system  because   impropriety  and  conflict  are   kept  out  of                                                               
decision-making.   A member  who is conflicted  out still  has an                                                               
opportunity to  transmit information to the  board, he clarified.                                                               
In allocation decisions,  one party is always trying  to get fish                                                               
away  from the  other party,  and  there are  always winners  and                                                               
losers.   Contentions will increase with  HB 241, he opined.   He                                                               
warned  that  there  will be  members  shamefully  abusing  their                                                               
political  power to  get what  they want  for their  own fishery.                                                               
"I'm dead set against this," he concluded.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:24:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SAMUELS asked if a  conflicted member can participate in                                                               
discussions, and how the rules change when the chair changes.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. WHITE  said conflicted members  can testify before  the board                                                               
and  that things  do change  under  different leaders.   He  said                                                               
changing  chairs is  a good  thing; it  makes the  board dynamic.                                                               
The rest of the board can always overrule the chair, he noted.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER asked about board turnover.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. WHITE said  it relates to the length of  the governor's term,                                                               
and with the  election of a governor, the board  can turn over by                                                               
the end of a governor's four-year term.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:27:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAUL  SHADURA, Kenai  Peninsula  Fisherman's Association,  Kenai,                                                               
said his  organization has  testimony on  record from  the April,                                                               
13, 2005 House  Special Committee on Fisheries meeting.   He said                                                               
HB  241  should pass  without  amendments.    He said  the  board                                                               
appointment process limits the potential for undue preference.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:29:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RICKY  GEASE,  Executive  Director,  Kenai  River  Sport  Fishing                                                               
Association,  Kenai, said  his organization  strongly opposes  HB
241.   The  bill  will  destroy the  perception  of an  impartial                                                               
board, and  stakeholders must have  faith that the board  acts in                                                               
the best interest  of everyone, he said.  This  change could ball                                                               
up the  confirmation process because every  interested user group                                                               
will lobby to be  on the board.  He said HB  241 places the power                                                               
of  the pocketbook  over  stewardship of  the  resource.   People                                                               
don't tend  to vote against  their own  pocket book, and  it will                                                               
call  into  question every  vote  that  has an  interested  party                                                               
voting  on it.   It  will destroy  the integrity  of the  board's                                                               
committee  process, he  added.    A board  member  with a  direct                                                               
financial  interest  could  chair  a committee  and  destroy  the                                                               
valuable committee process.   There currently exists  a method to                                                               
involve conflicted  board members,  and they  actually can  go on                                                               
the record and have their knowledge considered, he stated.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:33:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. GEASE said HB 241 changes  the board from a public service to                                                               
a private  interest.  Board  members are currently  shielded from                                                               
such accusations.  "We strongly oppose HB 241," he concluded.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:34:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  SAMUELS asked  if  a conflicted  member  should have  a                                                               
place at the table or just provide testimony.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. GEASE said  he supports the current process.   The conflicted                                                               
members can participate in the  committee and give a three-minute                                                               
testimony to the whole board.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:36:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JERRY MCCUNE, United Fishermen of  Alaska (UFA), Juneau, said UFA                                                               
supports  the concept  of  HB  241.   He  suggested leveling  the                                                               
playing field  because different chairs make  different decisions                                                               
on the  roles of conflicted members.   Many lodge owners  are not                                                               
conflicted out  when commercial fishing  members are,  he stated.                                                               
He said the member should be able  to put his or her expertise on                                                               
the record.   The governor  can only  ask members to  resign, and                                                               
since the  terms are two to  three years, the board  can entirely                                                               
turn over by the end of a governor's four-year term.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:38:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  suggested  making a  distinction  between                                                               
lobbyists and someone who is using the fish resource.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MCCUNE said  it depends  on the  appointments, and  not many                                                               
executive  directors or  lobbyists get  on the  board.   Everyone                                                               
comes with some kind of prejudice, he noted.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:40:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SAMUELS postulated that if  a particular gear group gets                                                               
a  vote,   then  other  gear   groups  will  fight  to   also  be                                                               
represented.  The infighting could damage the process.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MCCUNE said  he thought  someone with  a financial  conflict                                                               
would still  get conflicted out  under HB 241.   The appointments                                                               
are up  to the  governor and  the legislature  who would  have to                                                               
balance the board.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:43:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAT CARTER, Juneau,  said he is a former Kenai  guide, and he has                                                               
attended many  fish board meetings.   He said there has  not been                                                               
an even application  of the conflict of interest rules.   He gave                                                               
an  example of  members being  able to  vote because  they had  a                                                               
conflict of  only 15 percent  of their  income, but he  has never                                                               
seen anyone  vote against their  pocketbook.  He added  that this                                                               
debate  seems to  be shaping  up as  a debate  between sport  and                                                               
commercial fisheries.   If  the bill passes,  there will  also be                                                               
fights between  each commercial  gear type.   Certain  gear types                                                               
will push  for a seat, and  then that person will  need to answer                                                               
to that  gear type, he postulated.   Government is run  by people                                                               
who  show up,  he said,  so expertise  will be  heard if  someone                                                               
wants it to.   He said a member's financial  interest needs to be                                                               
gauged.   Would a hotel  or t-shirt  shop owner have  a financial                                                               
interest in the sport fishing industry, he asked.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:47:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CARTER said  the public  is  always suspect  of the  board's                                                               
decisions, and with financial  interests carrying the discussions                                                               
and voting, it will be a step away from credibility.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:48:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SAMUELS  asked if allowing conflicted  members to debate                                                               
at the table is inappropriate.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. CARTER said  currently the member can step  aside and testify                                                               
as a member of the public, but  if that person engages as a board                                                               
member, he or  she will be able to go  into the committee process                                                               
and  help  carry  the  discussion.     The  committees  form  the                                                               
foundation of the decisions, he said.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SAMUELS  noted his frustrations of  not participating on                                                               
the House floor when he has expertise on aviation issues.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. CARTER  said it  is a public  process with  public testimony,                                                               
and the testimony  is used in the debate.   The Alaska Department                                                               
of Fish  & Game  (ADF&G) gives  an overview.   He said  there are                                                               
discussions during  breaks.   There used to  be vote  trading, he                                                               
said, and HB 241 will be a step back toward those days.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:52:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LARRY ENGLE,  Palmer, said  he opposes  HB 241.   He said  he has                                                               
been  involved  with the  Board  of  Fisheries process  for  many                                                               
years, and  he was  an ADF&G  staff prior  to that.   He  said he                                                               
agrees  with every  single word  in  Mr. White's  testimony.   He                                                               
asked  if  the  system  is  really broken,  and  noted  that  the                                                               
resource used  to be in a  "shambles."  When the  legislature set                                                               
up the boards,  it wanted maximum public  participation, he said,                                                               
and  that  has stayed  intact  over  all  the  years.   The  fish                                                               
resources are  healthier than ever.   "Do we want to  risk that?"                                                               
he  asked.    Fairness  is extremely  difficult  when  there  are                                                               
financial ties, he declared.   Perceptions are important, and the                                                               
benefits of  HB 241  do not even  come close to  the loss  of the                                                               
perception of  fairness.  It  will be  a real step  backwards, he                                                               
said.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:59:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  JENSEN,  Commercial Fisherman,  Petersburg,  said  he is  a                                                               
member of  the Board of  Fisheries, and he  supports HB 241.   He                                                               
said  he   feels  left  out   of  discussions   about  commercial                                                               
fisheries, and he wants to  be able to provide information during                                                               
deliberations.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:00:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER asked about the ability to testify.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JENSEN said  conflicted members  can provide  testimony, but                                                               
will  not be  chosen  to be  a  member of  a  committee with  the                                                               
conflict, but  can only testify  to the  committee.  He  said the                                                               
frustration  is  during the  debate  after  the testimony,  which                                                               
could get way off track, and still he would not have input.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER  said one solution  would be to  allow the                                                               
conflicted member to debate the issues but not vote on them.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. JENSEN said that would help a lot.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS  asked Representative  Kapsner why  a board                                                               
member would not vote since that is their job.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CARL  CROME,  Commercial Fisherman,  Petersburg,  said  he is  in                                                               
favor of  HB 241.   He said  legislators are not  conflicted out,                                                               
and "there's no end to the  financial conflict they have."  Board                                                               
members  are  scrutinized and  approved  by  the legislature,  he                                                               
added.   He said  commercial fishing  members get  conflicted out                                                               
and  people are  unhappy with  the final  votes.   People on  the                                                               
board  should be  voting and  deliberating, he  stated.   He said                                                               
lodge  owners aren't  conflicted out  when they  should be.   The                                                               
board is lopsided toward sport fish interests, he concluded.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:07:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR SAMUELS  said that all  40 legislators are  not beholden                                                               
to anybody but their conscience.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KAPSNER   justified    legislators   not   being                                                               
conflicted out because they are part of a bigger body.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:08:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GARY SLAVEN,  Commercial Fisherman, Petersburg, said  he was once                                                               
chair of the Board of Fisheries  and has respect for the members.                                                               
In  the 1980s  the chair  and other  members of  the board  would                                                               
decide how much participation a  conflicted member could have, he                                                               
said.   Other  states were  envious in  the way  Alaska residents                                                               
were part  of the debate.   He reminisced  about his days  on the                                                               
board.   He said that sport  anglers think the current  system is                                                               
working well, but commercial fishing  is represented by less than                                                               
half the board's members.  The  perspective of the people who are                                                               
knowledgeable should  be included.   He said ADF&G  personnel can                                                               
comment during debate but the public  can't, so the board goes to                                                               
the committee  level for  that.  The  committee process  is great                                                               
but takes up  a lot of time,  he stated.  "With  the small amount                                                               
of commercial  participation there  is on the  board now  ... the                                                               
issue  has changed,"  and  the  board needs  the  input from  the                                                               
commercial  fishing   members.    If  they   have  a  significant                                                               
financial  interest, "of  course they  shouldn't vote,"  he said,                                                               
but a blanket exclusion from the  process is not serving the fish                                                               
board well.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:13:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEVEN DAUGHERTY,  Assistant Attorney General,  Alaska Department                                                               
of Law  (DOL), Anchorage,  said DOL  does not  consider HB  241 a                                                               
complete exemption  from the  ethics act.   It  allows conflicted                                                               
members to vote after disclosure, provided  the vote is not a use                                                               
of state  facilities to benefit personal  or financial interests.                                                               
He said certain  provisions of the ethics act  would still apply,                                                               
like improper gifts, improper use  and disclosure of information,                                                               
improper  representation,  accepting  compensation  for  official                                                               
duties,  and  coercion of  subordinates.    Under HB  241,  board                                                               
members  could  still  get  advice  from DOL.    He  spoke  of  a                                                               
potential amendment, but it was not before the committee.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:17:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked why  participation in a discussion is                                                               
considered acting.  "Is there a court case?" she asked.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. DAUGHERTY said  he did not know, but  during deliberation the                                                               
board members try to influence each other's actions.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked the difference between  personal and                                                               
financial interests.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DAUGHERTY   said  personal   interest  is  an   interest  or                                                               
involvement  by  a  public officer  or  immediate  family,  which                                                               
includes  membership in  any organization,  whether nonprofit  or                                                               
political,  from  which  a  person  or  organization  receives  a                                                               
benefit.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  suggested that  a member  of UFA  might be                                                               
excluded from discussing anything that UFA may benefit from.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DAUGHERTY said  there are  situations where  a conflict  can                                                               
occur, but it is not across the board.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:21:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OLSON asked about the amendment.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. DAUGHERTY said it is not a DOL amendment.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:22:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER  YUHAS,  Executive  Director,  Alaska  Outdoor  Council,                                                               
Fairbanks, strongly opposes  HB 241 because it  would corrupt the                                                               
Board of Fisheries and destroy the  fish resource.  The board has                                                               
done  a  commendable job,  she  opined.    The bill  would  allow                                                               
financially  interested users  to  vote to  enrich themselves  by                                                               
allocating resources  to them.  It  would become a board  of fish                                                               
lobbyists,  she  said,  and  then the  legislature  will  end  up                                                               
allocating  the resources.   She  said board  members with  sport                                                               
fish backgrounds  have sat  out of board  discussions; it  is not                                                               
the case  that the  commercial fisherman  have been  excluded and                                                               
not the sport fishing interests.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:26:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  said everyone  needs  to  be treated  the                                                               
same, and things change when the chair does.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:27:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked about other alternatives.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
[HB 241 was held over]                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
HB 269-HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE RELEASE LIABILITY                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  final order of business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL  NO. 269, "An Act relating  to contribution actions                                                               
relating to the  release of a hazardous  substance; and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
JANE PIERSON, Staff to Representative Jay Ramras, read the                                                                      
following statement [original punctuation provided]:                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     HB 269 deals with fixing  the uncertainty caused by the                                                                    
     United  States Supreme  Court's December  2004 decision                                                                    
     in, Cooper Industries v. Aviall Services, Inc.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska's hazardous  substance remediation  statutes are                                                                    
     modeled after  the Federal  Comprehensive Environmental                                                                    
     Response Compensation & Liability  Act of 1980 (CERCLA)                                                                    
     and  the Superfund  Amendments and  Reauthorization Act                                                                    
     of 1986 (SARA)                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The  US  Supreme Court  found  in  the Aviall  decision                                                                    
     that, a  responsible party cannot bring  a contribution                                                                    
     action until  such time as  the party has been  sued by                                                                    
     the state or federal government,  or has entered into a                                                                    
     formal administrative settlement of liability.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The Aviall  decision puts into  question the  rights of                                                                    
     Alaskan's who conduct  voluntary cleanups on properties                                                                    
     contaminated   by  hazardous   substances  to   undergo                                                                    
     contribution   actions    against   other   potentially                                                                    
     responsible parties.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Voluntary cleanups of contaminated  sites form the vast                                                                    
     majority  of environmental  cleanups  conducted in  the                                                                    
     State of Alaska.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     These voluntary  cleanups allow the state  to focus its                                                                    
     limited  resources  on   monitoring  responsible  party                                                                    
     cleanup   actions,   instead  of   undertaking   costly                                                                    
     administrative  or  judicial   enforcement  actions  to                                                                    
     force  cleanups,  or  undertaking  cleanups  at  public                                                                    
     expense.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The  right   to  contribution  actions   against  other                                                                    
     potentially  responsible parties  creates an  important                                                                    
     incentive  for   voluntary  remediation,   by  allowing                                                                    
     responsible  parties  to undertake  effective  cleanups                                                                    
     themselves, and then  be able to recover  some of those                                                                    
     costs from  other potentially responsible  parties, who                                                                    
     fail to voluntarily undertake or  assist with the clean                                                                    
     up.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The  purpose of  HB 269,  is to  respond to  the Aviall                                                                    
     decision   by    clarifying   the   language    in   AS                                                                    
     46.03.822(j),  ensuring  that responsible  parties  who                                                                    
     conduct  voluntary  cleanups   may  bring  contribution                                                                    
     actions against other potentially responsible parties.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     HB  269  has the  support  of  both the  Department  of                                                                    
     Environmental Conservation and the Governor's office.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     This is not  an area of law where Alaska  can afford to                                                                    
     have the  common law  decisions of  the court  out pace                                                                    
     our  codified laws.   For  the reasons  stated above  I                                                                    
     urge the committee to pass HB269.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:31:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD asked for an explanation.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. PIERSON said  if there was a gas spill  on your property, and                                                               
you were  not the one  who spilled it but  you clean it  up, then                                                               
you cannot sue  the guilty party until  the government instigates                                                               
an action.   She said  HB 269 changes  our statutes so  that once                                                               
the state or federal government  has identified other responsible                                                               
parties you can sue them for their part in the spill.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:32:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BENJAMIN BROWN, Legislative  Liaison, Department of Environmental                                                               
Conservation, said the Supreme Court  came to an odd decision and                                                               
said  unless you  have a  right  to a  contribution action  under                                                               
certain sections  of the  act, then  you can't  go after  a third                                                               
party defendant.   The Alaska  Supreme Court  has not yet  made a                                                               
similar decision, but  it could, he said.  The  bill will prevent                                                               
a future  problem based  on this  "arcane interpretation"  by the                                                               
U.S. Supreme Court.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:35:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRETT  TOSTEVIN,  Assistant  Attorney  General,  Civil  Division,                                                               
Department of Law (DOL), said the  DOL supports HB 269 because it                                                               
allows  people who  do  voluntary  cleanup to  try  to get  costs                                                               
covered even  if they have  not been  sued, and it  would removes                                                               
the  confusion  brought  about by  the  Supreme  Court  decision.                                                               
Voluntary  cleanup   can  occur  "without  us   having  to  incur                                                               
additional  costs  or  enforcement   actions  or  have  to  bring                                                               
lawsuits against people  simply to allow them to have  a right of                                                               
contribution against  other people who  are liable."   Without HB
269, a monkey  wrench could be thrown into  the state's voluntary                                                               
cleanup  program.   The bill  would allow  a contribution  action                                                               
after the  issuance of the  potential liability  determination by                                                               
the  Department  of  Environmental  Conservation,  and  the  bill                                                               
defines what that may determination  be.  The bill will encourage                                                               
voluntary  cleanups in  the future  and  not reward  recalcitrant                                                               
parties.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:40:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD asked who would be opposed to the bill.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. TOSTEVIN said he does not know of any.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:41:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GEORGE  LYLE, Private  Attorney, Anchorage,  said he  has clients                                                               
who  own properties  that were  contaminated by  previous owners.                                                               
Current  owners are  obligated to  clean up  the properties,  but                                                               
they should retain the right  to go after the parties responsible                                                               
for the contamination,  he stated.  The owners  tend to volunteer                                                               
to  do  the  cleanup  with  the  understanding  that  they  could                                                               
eventually seek recovery from the  people who actually caused the                                                               
problems.  He urged the committee to pass HB 269.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:43:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  OLSON moved  to report  HB 269  out of  committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.    There  being  no   objection,  HB  269  passed  out  of                                                               
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Resources Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 2:45 p.m.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

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