Legislature(1997 - 1998)
02/19/1998 09:11 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE February 19, 1998 9:11 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Jeannette James, Chair Representative Ivan Ivan, Vice Chairman Representative Ethan Berkowitz Representative Fred Dyson Representative Kim Elton Representative Mark Hodgins Representative Al Vezey MEMBERS ABSENT Representative Al Vezey COMMITTEE CALENDAR CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 105(FIN) am "An Act relating to legislative and executive branch ethics; relating to campaign finances for candidates for state office; relating to the conduct and regulation of lobbyists with respect to public officials; relating to the filing of disclosures by certain state employees and officials; making a conforming amendment to the definition of `public official' for employment security statutes; and providing for an effective date." - ASSIGNED TO SUBCOMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 122 "An Act relating to unfair discrimination under a group health insurance policy for services provided by marital and family therapists; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED HCSSB 122(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 168 "An Act relating to use of traditional means of access to assist in taking game or fish and to traditional means of access for traditional outdoor activities on land and water set aside for fish and game purposes; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD AND HELD HOUSE BILL NO. 377 "An Act relating to filling a vacancy in the office of United States senator or in an office in the state legislature." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD (* First public hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: SB 105 SHORT TITLE: ETHICS/LOBBYING/CAMPAIGN FINANCE SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF LEGISLATIVE ETHICS COMMITTEE Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 02/25/97 494 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 02/25/97 494 (S) STATE AFFAIRS, FINANCE 03/11/97 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ ROOM 211 03/11/97 (S) MINUTE(STA) 03/13/97 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ ROOM 211 03/13/97 (S) MINUTE(STA) 03/18/97 (S) MINUTE(STA) 03/25/97 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ ROOM 211 03/25/97 (S) MINUTE(STA) 03/26/97 873 (S) STA RPT CS 3DP NEW TITLE 03/26/97 873 (S) DP: GREEN, MILLER, WARD 03/26/97 873 (S) FISCAL NOTE TO SB (ADM) 03/26/97 873 (S) ZERO FISCAL NOTE TO SB (LAA) 03/26/97 873 (S) FISCAL NOTE TO CS (ADM) 04/10/97 (S) FIN AT 5:00 PM SENATE FINANCE 532 04/10/97 (S) MINUTE(FIN) 04/10/97 (S) MINUTE(FIN) 04/15/97 (S) FIN AT 8:00 AM SENATE FINANCE 532 04/15/97 (S) MINUTE(FIN) 04/16/97 (S) FIN AT 8:00 AM SENATE FINANCE 532 04/16/97 (S) MINUTE(FIN) 04/16/97 (S) MINUTE(FIN) 04/16/97 1163 (S) FIN RPT CS 2DP 5NR NEW TITLE 04/16/97 1163 (S) DP: PEARCE; DP IF AM: PHILLIPS 04/16/97 1163 (S) NR: SHARP, PARNELL, ADAMS, TORGERSON, 04/16/97 1163 (S) DONLEY 04/16/97 1163 (S) PREVIOUS ZERO FN APPLIES (LAA) 04/16/97 1163 (S) ZERO FNS TO CS (LABOR, LAW) 04/16/97 1163 (S) PREVIOUS ZERO FN APPLIES (LAA) 04/18/97 (S) RLS AT 10:45 AM FAHRENKAMP RM 203 04/18/97 (S) MINUTE(RLS) 04/18/97 1276 (S) RULES TO CALENDAR & 1NR 4/18/97 04/18/97 1279 (S) READ THE SECOND TIME 04/18/97 1279 (S) FIN CS ADOPTED UNAN CONSENT 04/18/97 1280 (S) AM NO 1 OFFERED AND WITHDRAWN 04/18/97 1281 (S) AM NO 2 FAILED Y4 N13 E3 04/18/97 1282 (S) AM NO 3 FAILED Y4 N13 E3 04/18/97 1283 (S) AMENDMENTS 4, 5 NOT OFFERED 04/18/97 1283 (S) AM NO 6 ADOPTED Y12 N5 E3 04/18/97 1285 (S) AM NO 7 FAILED Y7 N10 E3 04/18/97 1286 (S) AM NO 8 FAILED Y5 N12 E3 04/18/97 1287 (S) AM NO 9 ADOPTED Y17 N- E3 04/18/97 1291 (S) ADVANCED TO THIRD READING UNAN CONSENT 04/18/97 1291 (S) READ THE THIRD TIME CSSB 105(FIN) AM 04/18/97 1292 (S) PASSED Y15 N2 E3 04/18/97 1292 (S) EFFECTIVE DATE(S) SAME AS PASSAGE 04/18/97 1292 (S) LINCOLN NOTICE OF RECONSIDERATION 04/21/97 1334 (S) RECON TAKEN UP - IN THIRD READING 04/21/97 1335 (S) RETURN TO SECOND FOR AM 10 UNAN CONSENT 04/21/97 1335 (S) AM NO 10 ADOPTED Y14 N5 E1 04/21/97 1336 (S) AUTOMATICALLY IN THIRD READING 04/21/97 1337 (S) PASSED ON RECONSIDERATION Y17 N2 E1 04/21/97 1337 (S) EFFECTIVE DATE(S) SAME AS PASSAGE 04/21/97 1370 (S) TRANSMITTED TO (H) 04/22/97 1232 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 04/22/97 1233 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, FINANCE 02/05/98 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 02/05/98 (H) MINUTE(STA) 02/12/98 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 02/17/98 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: SB 122 SHORT TITLE: INS.COVERAGE:MARRIAGE & FAMILY THERAPIST SPONSOR(S): LABOR & COMMERCE BY REQUEST Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 03/06/97 597 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 03/06/97 597 (S) L&C, HES 04/08/97 (S) L&C AT 1:30 PM FAHRENKAMP RM 203 04/08/97 (S) MINUTE(L&C) 04/09/97 1049 (S) L&C RPT CS 1DP 3NR SAME TITLE 04/09/97 1049 (S) DP: LEMAN; NR: KELLY, MACKIE, MILLER 04/09/97 1049 (S) ZERO FN TO SB & CS (DCED) 04/16/97 (S) HES AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH ROOM 205 04/16/97 (S) MINUTE(HES) 04/16/97 1164 (S) HES RPT 3DP 2NR (L&C)CS 04/16/97 1164 (S) DP: WARD, LEMAN, ELLIS NR: GREEN, WILKEN 04/16/97 1164 (S) PREVIOUS ZERO FN (DCED) 04/21/97 (S) RLS AT 10:45 AM FAHRENKAMP RM 203 04/21/97 (S) MINUTE(RLS) 04/21/97 1331 (S) RULES TO CALENDAR 4/21/97 04/21/97 1344 (S) READ THE SECOND TIME 04/21/97 1344 (S) L&C CS ADOPTED Y15 N4 E1 04/21/97 1344 (S) ADVANCED TO THIRD READING UNAN CONSENT 04/21/97 1344 (S) READ THE THIRD TIME CSSB 122(L&C) 04/21/97 1345 (S) PASSED Y13 N6 E1 04/21/97 1345 (S) EFFECTIVE DATE PASSED Y15 N4 E1 04/21/97 1345 (S) DUNCAN NOTICE OF RECONSIDERATION 04/22/97 1420 (S) RECON TAKEN UP - IN THIRD READING 04/22/97 1420 (S) PLACED AT BOTTOM OF CALENDAR 04/22/97 1429 (S) HELD ON RECONSIDERATION TO 4/23 CALENDAR 04/23/97 1452 (S) BEFORE THE SENATE ON RECONSIDERATION 04/23/97 1452 (S) RETURN TO RLS COMMITTEE 05/08/97 (S) RLS AT 8:25 PM FAHRENKAMP RM 203 05/08/97 (S) MINUTE(RLS) 05/09/97 1891 (S) RULES TO CAL ON RECONSIDERATION IN 3RD 05/09/97 1923 (S) IN THIRD READING ON RECONSIDERATION 05/09/97 1923 (S) RTN 2ND RESCIND PREVIOUS ACTION UAN CON 05/09/97 1924 (S) RESCINDED ADOPTING L&C CS Y13 N6 E1 05/09/97 1924 (S) FAILED TO ADOPT L&C CS Y4 N15 E1 05/09/97 1924 (S) AUTOMATICALLY IN THIRD READING SB 122 05/09/97 1925 (S) LETTER OF INTENT FAILED Y7 N12 E1 05/09/97 1926 (S) PASSED ON RECONSIDERATION Y15 N4 E1 05/09/97 1926 (S) EFFECTIVE DATE(S) SAME AS PASSAGE 05/09/97 1932 (S) TRANSMITTED TO (H) 05/09/97 1786 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 05/09/97 1786 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, L&C, WTR 02/19/98 (H) STA AT 9:05 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HB 168 SHORT TITLE: TRADITIONAL ACCESS FOR TRADITIONAL ACTIVI SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVES(S) MASEK, Kohring Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 03/05/97 543 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 03/05/97 543 (H) RESOURCES, STATE AFFAIRS 02/05/98 (H) RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124 02/05/98 (H) MINUTE(RES) 02/06/98 2232 (H) RES RPT CS(RES) 3DP 2DNP 2NR 02/06/98 2232 (H) DP: MASEK, OGAN, DYSON; DNP: JOULE 02/06/98 2232 (H) NICHOLIA; NR: HUDSON, GREEN 02/06/98 2233 (H) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (F&G) 02/19/98 (H) STA AT 9:05 AM CAPITOL 102 WITNESS REGISTER BEVERLY LINDELL, Past President and Current Legislative Chair Alaska Association for Marriage and Family Therapy P.O. Box 32481 Juneau, Alaska Telephone: (907) 790-3202 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of CSSB 122(L&C). MICHAEL WEINGARTEN, Board Member Alaska Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Human Relations Center 1709 South Bragaw, Suite A Anchorage, Alaska 99508 Telephone: (907) 272-5500 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of CSSB 122(L&C). VIVIAN FINDLAY Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist P.O. Box 872433 Wasilla, Alaska 99687 Telephone: (907) 373-6006 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of CSSB 122(L&C). ELAINE WILLIAMS, Public Member Board of Marital and Family Therapy Division of Occupational Licensing Department of Commerce and Economic Development 2206 Peters Lane Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 463-5247 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of CSSB 122(L&C). PAM WAATS, President American Counseling Association of Alaska; and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist P.O. Box 240594 Douglas, Alaska 99824 Telephone: (907) 5861547 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of CSSB 122(L&C). DIXIE HOOD, Marriage and Family Therapist 9350 View Drive Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 586-2200 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of CSSB 122(L&C). REPRESENTATIVE BEVERLY MASEK Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 432 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-2679 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 168. EDDIE GRASSER, Legislative Assistant to Representative Beverly Masek Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 432 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-2679 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding of HB 168. DON SHERWOOD Alaska Boating Association 1640 Brink Drive Anchorage, Alaska 99504 Telephone: (907) 333-6268 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 168. MICHAEL EASTHAM Homer Anchor Point Snow Machine Club Box 475 Homer, Alaska 99603 Telephone: (907) 235-2603 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 168. BILL EASTHAM, President Mat-Su Motor Mushers HC 03, Box 8286 Palmer, Alaska 99745 Telephone: (907) 245-3043 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 168. WALTER "RED" DECKER HC 01, Box 6486D Palmer, Alaska 99645 Telephone: (907) 745-6784 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 168. LEONARD HAIRE P.O. Box 879030 Wasilla, Alaska 99687 Telephone: (907) 373-6183 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 168. CLIFF JUDKINS, President Alaska Boating Association P.O. Box 871310 Wasilla, Alaska 99687 Telephone: (907) 373-3591 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 168. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 98-20, SIDE A Number 0001 CHAIR JEANNETTE JAMES called the House State Affairs Standing Committee meeting to order at 9:11 a.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives James, Berkowitz, Dyson and Ivan. Representatives Elton and Hodgins arrived as the meeting was in progress. CSSB 105(FIN) AM - ETHICS/LOBBYING/CAMPAIGN FINANCE Number 082 CHAIR JAMES announced to the committee members that she has put CSSB 105(FIN) am, "An Act relating to legislative and executive branch ethics; relating to campaign finances for candidates for state office; relating to the conduct and regulation of lobbyists with respect to public officials; relating to the filing of disclosures by certain state employees and officials; making a conforming amendment to the definition of `public official' for employment security statutes; and providing for an effective date," into a subcommittee. The subcommittee members are Representatives James, Ivan and Berkowitz. She informed the committee that the first meeting of the subcommittee will be held on Tuesday, February 24, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. SB 122 - INS.COVERAGE:MARRIAGE & FAMILY THERAPIST Number 0142 CHAIR JAMES announced the committee would hear SB 122, "An Act relating to unfair discrimination under a group health insurance policy for services provided by marital and family therapists; and providing for an effective date." She informed the committee members that the bill was introduced by the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee by request of the Alaska Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). She asked Ms. Lindell of the association to present the bill. Number 0196 REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON noted for the record that he has a conflict of interest as his wife is a licensed marriage and family counselor and would significantly benefit if the legislation becomes law. CHAIR JAMES asked if there was an objection to Representative Dyson having a conflict. She noted he would be expected to vote. Number 0222 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN said there are no objections. Number 0258 BEVERLY LINDELL, Past President, Current Legislative Chair, Alaska Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, came before the committee. Ms. Lindell explained that the bill adds licensed marriage and family therapists to the list of providers against whom insurers cannot discriminate. She stated they are one of the identified five core mental health providers as identified by the National Institute of Mental Health. The other groups, social workers, psychologists, psychiatric (indisc.) and psychiatrists are already covered under this bill. Ms. Lindell said it is a fairness issue for her group because they would like to be at the table with their peers in this matter. They are a licensed group. She stated that is also important for consumers in that it gives them a greater access to services. A recent national survey showed that consumers more often refer to marriage and family therapists when given the choice. Ms. Lindell said there are other people who wish to testify as to the importance of their services. Number 0400 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN asked how many people were involved in this effort. MS. LINDELL explained that the AAMFT has approximately 80 members. In addition, there are about 150 licensed marriage and family therapists in the state. Number 0443 MICHAEL WEINGARTEN, Board Member, Alaska Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, testified via teleconference from Anchorage. He informed the committee members that he is a licensed marriage and family therapist. He said he has lived in Alaska for 20 years and has been working in the mental health field for the past 23 years. He said marriage and family therapists treat a variety of difficult problems and cases. Mr. Weingarten stated that his case load includes cases of child abuse, school and work problems, sexual abuse, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, delinquency, divorce and major depression. He said he would like to emphasize that the bill does not require insurers to add mental health coverage. He pointed out that the bill supports the public's free choice of licensed qualified providers. Marriage and family therapists are very cost effective. They can treat several members of a family simultaneously. They are located throughout the state of Alaska. They do preventative work and have high professional standards. Mr. Weingarten referred to the bill and stated that they are not requiring anybody to pay any more for coverage and aren't requiring anybody to cover any new service, condition or procedure that they're not already covering. He stated that the bill doesn't create an incentive for clients to spend more and it doesn't create a reason for insurance companies to spend more. The public will have greater access to a variety of professional licensed mental health providers. This means access to the provider of your choice. There would be more choices for the consumer without costing them more money and it means there will be more competition amongst providers in the marketplace. Mr. Weingarten said the people would have greater access to a variety of professional licensed mental health providers. Access to quality mental health care is good public policy, it decreases lateness and absenteeism on the job, it decreases unnecessary physical health care, it decreases employee disability costs, it decreases public financial assistance rates, it decreases workers' compensation claims and it increases job-related productivity. He encouraged the committee to support the legislation. Number 0655 VIVIAN FINDLAY, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, testified from the Mat-Su Legislative Information Office (LIO). She said she has been in the mental health field for 22 years and in Alaska for almost 15 years. She said she has had her own practice for about 11 years. Ms. Findlay stated that she is very much in support of the legislation for the reasons that Ms. Lindell and Mr. Weingarten have mentioned. She said, "I just wanted to add that we along with the other mental health professionals who are already licensed and are already included as providers for insurance purposes do very similar kinds of work, but we have a slightly different orientation of marriage and family therapists. And I do agree that there seems to be no reason that we should be excluded because we do provide excellent services. Thank you." Number 0720 ELAINE WILLIAMS, Public Member, Board of Marital and Family Therapy, Division of Occupational Licensing, Department of Commerce and Economic Development, came before the committee to testify in support of SB 122. She said that as a public member, she would like to be able to choose who she would see if she needed some sort of therapy. This legislation offers that opportunity with whatever insurance carrier she has. CHAIR JAMES noted there is a proposed State Affairs committee substitute, Version H, dated 2/17/98. Number 0775 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON made a motion to adopt the proposed committee substitute, Version H, before the committee. There being no objection, that version was before the committee. Number 0795 PAM WAATS, President, American Counseling Association of Alaska; and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, came before the committee to testify. She said as a state of Alaska licensed behavioral health care provider, marriage and family therapists provide therapeutic services within the scope of their license and their expertise. As such, it would not only be discriminatory to this group of mental health service providers for third party payers to refuse payment for professional services, but it also limits the choice of consumers to select qualified professionals who would best meet their needs. She said she would strongly encourage the committee to support parity for the Alaska marriage and family therapists. Number 0857 DIXIE HOOD, Marriage and Family Therapist, came before the committee to testify. She informed the committee that she has been in Alaska for 23 years and has been in private practice as a marriage and family therapist for the last 12 years. She said she would discuss how the present situation has impacted her work in negative ways as a self-employed person. She said until licensure was attained for marriage and family therapists, it was very difficult to get insurance reimbursement without having supervision by a medical doctor documented. When licensure occurred, it helped things as AETNA no longer had any problem with reimbursement. She informed the committee that there are a number of insurance companies that will not reimburse in Alaska even though they do in California and other states. They won't in Alaska because they can get away with it. Ms. Hood told the committee that one insurance company that has impacted her is Blue Cross. In Juneau, all of the city employees have Blue Cross insurance coverage. She said she is cut out of providing services to the city employees unless people are willing to self-pay and give up the possibility of compensation. Ms. Hood stated that last year she had a young women from Ketchikan, who is in her early 20s who had been severely injured in an accident. That woman's attorney had contacted her about providing services. Ms. Hood stated that she did provide services to the woman as she was extremely depressed and will be disabled for the rest of her life. Ms. Hood said she did provide services and the young woman was able to pay her out of a settlement from the accident, but she had expected to be reimbursed by Blue Cross. Ms. Hood said she and the young woman received a document back from Blue Cross that said, "Services by this provider are not covered." The amount was for $1,467. She urged the committee to pass the legislation. Number 1064 REPRESENTATIVE MARK HODGINS made a motion to move HCSSB 122(STA) from committee with individual recommendations and with the attached fiscal note. There being no objection, HCSSB 122(STA) moved out of the State Affairs Standing Committee. HB 168 - TRADITIONAL ACCESS FOR TRADITIONAL ACTIVITIES Number 1149 CHAIR JAMES announced the committee would address HB 168, "An Act relating to use of traditional means of access to assist in taking game or fish and to traditional means of access for traditional outdoor activities on land and water set aside for fish and game purposes; and providing for an effective date," sponsored by Representative Masek. An at-ease was taken to await the arrival of the sponsor. REPRESENTATIVE BEVERLY MASEK came before the committee and read the following statement into the record: "House Bill 168 was introduced as a companion measure to access bills, HB 23 and SB 35, which was passed by the legislature last year. Public access to the resources they own has been one of my primary areas of concern and I believe this bill completes the effort I began three years ago. "Since the passage of ANILCA [Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act] in 1980, Madam Chairman, the land tied up in conservation units in Alaska, both on federal and state land, makes up a large percentage of public lands. Many of these lands are either restricted by law or by some sort of features dealing with the conservation aspect. Furthermore, there are millions of acres of private land where access has been restricted. If we are going to consider further restrictions it seems to me they should take into account the amount of land set aside already for restricted use, and whether the restriction is for truly necessary reasons or at the request of a special interest group. "The previous hearing on this bill brought out some concerns that appeared to be generated by misconceptions. I would like to try to clear up those misunderstandings, Madam Chairman. "House Bill 168 grandfathers in all of the existing controlled use areas in the establishment of refuges and critical habitat areas has always been by legislative action. Secondly, House Bill 168 specifically allows the board to act without legislative intervention if a biological concern is evident. So this bill will not give the Board of Fish or Game the authority to close public lands only unless it was a biological factor, which I think is very important. Last and most importantly, Madam Chairman, House Bill 168 does not prevent the boards from creating controlled use areas with access restrictions if it lasts more than 2.5 months a year and or a larger parcel of 640 acres or more. "Once again, Madam Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to discuss House Bill 168 before your committee and I look forward to working with you to put this final piece of legislation in place to protect the ability of Alaskans to access the resource they own." Number 1366 CHAIR JAMES asked what effect, if any, does this legislation have on private property. REPRESENTATIVE MASEK stated that the bill does not deal with private property. CHAIR JAMES said the bill would only affect state and federal lands that are designated other than by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). REPRESENTATIVE MASEK responded that it only affects state lands. CHAIR JAMES asked if it affects state lands if they are designated as parks or refuges. REPRESENTATIVE MASEK stated, "That was one provision that is not in the bill as DNR [Department of Natural Resources], so that would not affect any of the state parks or the national refuges." CHAIR JAMES asked if there will be a mapping of the traditional access routes so that we know that they will be preserved. She said her concern is if some of this land is sold or is transferred in any way to private ownership, would the legislation establish a history for a route so that the route can't be erased. Number 1446 EDDIE GRASSER, Legislative Assistant to Representative Beverly Masek, Alaska State Legislature, came before the committee to respond to the question. He stated the bill doesn't pertain to that. It only deals with the Board of Game and Board of Fisheries regulations which deal with hunting and fishing. Access routes (indisc.) and access across land are DNR prerogative as far as mapping the trails. The bill only deals with regulation of hunters and fishermen as they access the resources that they're targeting. Number 1479 CHAIR JAMES asked, "Would you kind of tell me what these kinds of traditional access - means of access might be?" MR. GRASSER responded that one of the more utilized areas for access off road system is unit 13 in the Nelchina Basin just north of Anchorage or south of Fairbanks. Both the population of Anchorage and Fairbanks utilizes this area a great deal. Mr. Grasser pointed out that there is a large network of trail systems that go into unit 13. Snow machiners, hikers, horseback riders, cross country skiers and all terrain vehicles all access this area. He referred to hunting and said it wouldn't be practical to close an area like this because it is 80 miles from the nearest highway to the Oshetna River. Most of the people who are accessing this area for hunting are either hunting moose or caribou. He indicated that he has spent a great deal of time hunting professionally and said it would be physically impossible for anybody to hunt the Oshetna River without having some kind of motorized access to get there. Number 1559 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON informed the committee that he sees a potential conflict which is repeated twice in Section 1 of the bill. He said the Board of Fisheries or the Board of Game cannot ban the use of traditional means of access "unless" the ban is temporary in nature and effective cumulatively less than 8 months in a 3-year period. He said another exception under the "unless" provision is unless it's biologically essential for the protection of the game resource or a fish resource. Representative Elton said it seems to him that those two provisions may be in conflict. If it is necessary or biologically essential for the protection of the game resource, that necessity may be for longer than an 8-month period. He asked which clause is a pre-eminent clause. He asked if it could be longer than 8 months in a 3-year period if it is biologically necessary or is the pre-eminent clause unless it's temporary in nature.... CHAIR JAMES interjected, "I guess underneath (4) it says 'or'. So I think those are all 'ors' not 'ands.'" REPRESENTATIVE ELTON said that it seems to him that the two provisions may be in conflict. Number 1633 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK said, "This provision here, if you take a look at the history in the state here, there have not been any closures of any type. For emergency purposes, it has been closed more than the given time here. What we're trying to do here pretty much gives the opportunity for the Board of Game if let's say there is a salmon problem and they close it down. With our seasons in Alaska, it's very uncommon to see something that's shut down for a longer period of time, but if it's for a biological reason then this bill would give that opportunity for them to care for that matter." CHAIR JAMES referred to number (3), "biologically essential for the protection of a game resource or of fish or game habitat;". She asked what would happen if there was a four-wheeler trail and the use of that trail was so extensive that there are ruts forming and runoff occurring to where it was affecting a stream or some other habitat. She asked if the evidence is there, could they restrict four-wheelers from going over the trail. She also asked if they could do it for more than 8 months out of 3 years. Number 1707 MR. GRASSER informed the committee that the Board of Fisheries and the Board of Game only have the authority to enact restrictions on access as it pertains to actual hunting or fishing. He explained that the Department of Natural Resources has the ultimate authority over those types of access issues. He pointed out that the issue was raised during the discussion of unit 13 at the November board meeting. It was pointed out to the board by their attorney that they only have the opportunity to restrict access as it pertained to people actually hunting. He said if people were recreationally riding their ORV (off-road vehicles), the Board of Game did not have the authority to restrict that. They would have to go to DNR and get concurrence for that type of restriction. Number 1768 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked what would happen if the Board of Fisheries made a decision that the catch impact at a remote river is too high and one way of reducing that catch impact is to restrict motorized access. He said it would be a management decision to protect a biological resource. If they made that decision, they would then be restricted to only allow that decision to stand for no longer than 8 months out of a 3-year period. MR. GRASSER responded, "I think part of the problem with that type of discussion is people's lack of understanding of actual - like season on -- that could happen on say a rainbow trout fishery, but if you're talking about a salmon fishery then you're probably talking about a restriction that could take place in 2 months every year. You'd still take care of the problem because you have a weak run. You want to close the fishery down. You want to restrict access. You could do that forever. You'd never have to come to the legislature for approval because you'd meet the 8-month test. And you basically have targeted the prime fishing area of the summer months - that when a motor boat could be used." REPRESENTATIVE ELTON pointed out that it could also be winter months. There could be snow machine access for ice fishing. He said you wouldn't necessarily be talking about a seasonal fishery unless you're talking about a migratory species. Number 1855 MR. GRASSER said that is correct. He said, "There again you'd have to -- like on a snow machine going out for ice fishing, the board would have to probably use some other tool because, again, DNR would have the ultimate authority over whether or not people could actually snow machine in that area unless they were fishing." Number 1900 DON SHERWOOD, Alaska Boating Association, testified via teleconference from Anchorage in support of HB 168. He explained the association is made up of motorized and nonmotorized users with 100 percent of hunters and fisher persons. If the legislation is passed, we can be assured of management for all users of traditional means of access. He indicated that there are special interest groups that are misinforming the public and referred to a specific letter from Kay Brown of the Alaska Conservation (Indisc.). He referred to page 2, line 11, "biologically essential for the protection of a fishery resource or of fish and game habitat;", and said if this isn't as plain as it can be written, he doesn't know what is. Mr. Sherwood informed the committee that his organization has been adamant about the protection of our habitat. He urged that the bill be passed. Mr. Sherwood also asked the committee to consider passing HJR 39. Number 2000 MICHAEL EASTHAM, Homer Anchor Point Snow Machine Club, testified via teleconference from Homer in support of HB 168. He said the bill does not discriminate against any type of user group. This means that any user group could use and have access of state lands including handicapped people who can't hike or ski. Mr. Eastham pointed out that the Department of Fish and Game always has the alternative to close a fishing or hunting season to protect the resource. They could also shorten bag limits. By closing or having shortened bag limits, it will cut down on the number of people who actually use the resource. The bill guarantees equal access to the opportunity to hunt or fish by leaving it open to everyone. Mr. Eastham referred to a state park survey and said over 94 percent of Alaskans recreate in some form in the outdoors. This is the highest per capita in United States. He said he believes it would be criminal to close state lands to select user groups by restricting the ORVs of traditional use. Number 2077 BILL EASTHAM, President, Mat-Su Motor Mushers, testified from the Mat-Su LIO. He said he would echo the comments of his brother, Michael Eastham. He concluded that the Mat-Su Motor Mushers supports HB 168. Number 2094 WALTER "RED" DECKER testified via teleconference from the Mat-Su Legislative Information Office. He informed the committee he has spoken with many people around the state regarding HB 168. Mr. Decker referred the committee to Article VIII, 1, of the Constitution of Alaska, "Section 1. Statement of Policy. It is the policy of the state to encourage the settlement of its land and the development of its resources by making them available for maximum use consistent with the public interest." He said, "And then it says, 'The commissioner shall allow traditional access to the Nelchina public use area by motorized or nonmotorized means of transportation to private land interests and private land and in the lawful sport and subsistence hunting, fishing, trapping and recreational purposes in the manner compatible with the purpose specified in AS 41.23.010.'" Mr. Decker stated that this is a constitutional amendment which was revised on November 12, 1971. He said what he has gathered from this is there is a special interest group priority preference, conflict of interest and neglect of representation. He said that HB 168 should have been passed a long time ago. Mr. Decker said, "To start with, (indisc.) how things are spread out so much. You've got the Governor, he fights like hell for the tourism business and for the million dollars from the Canadian government suit over the Malaspina and the fishermen in the canneries and don't mention -- not to mention the tour buses that tour through this state, but has done nothing for the people inland of the state. We the people that live inland depend on the natural resources and wildlife to put meat on the table to families. We are required to take one moose, 50 inches, or (indisc.) and one caribou. But here we go, the federal government gives rural residents special permits to take any moose and as many caribou necessary for subsistence in Glennallen, Paxson and Delta area. This is prejudice and a conflict of interest to other residents of the state. Unit 13 is bordered by the Denali Highway and 90 percent of the people want it unimproved and left alone just the way it is. That's what makes the Denali Highway what it is. But now they sent out a questionnaire asking the public, in other words, what they should do with it. Well this happens to be in unit 13, the part that we're talking about right now is the Nelchina caribou herd." Mr. Decker continued by saying that there are thousands of miles of road in the state and in the valley that need repair and they want to pave the Denali Highway. They don't have the backing of the people, but they're going to do it anyway. He stated that how things have been run is a conflict of interest. Mr. Decker continued to give testimony in support of HB 168. Number 2359 LEONARD HAIRE was next to testified from the Mat-Su LIO. He informed the committee that he is a boat manufacturer and resident of Mat-Su. He also noted he is a member of the Alaska Boating Association, the Alaska Outdoor Council and is an avid hunter and fisherman. Mr. Haire said he strongly supports HB 168. The bill has been needed for a long time. The Board of Game needs to spend their time on the protection of game and game habitat, and less time on trying to handle people problems. He referred to the phrases "quality of experience" and "quality of the hunt" and said those phrases could be defined in 1,000 different ways. He thanked Representative Masek for introducing the bill and urged its passage. Number 2417 CLIFF JUDKINS, President, Alaska Boating Association, was the last person to testify from the Mat-Su LIO. He stated that he lives in Wasilla and is a 36-year resident of Alaska. Mr. Judkins noted he is also a member of the Alaska Outdoor Council. He stated he strongly supports HB 168. The restriction of access to hunting and fishing, motorized or otherwise, should be based on sound biological data and not on the emotions or personal likes and dislikes of a particular individual. The option of HB 168 will give needed direction to the Board of Fisheries and the Board of Game who are currently spending many hours listening to proposals and debate concerning motorized access that have nothing to do with fish and game management. He said there will always be a debate between those that favor efficient modern technology and those that favor the old ways. That debate should not be carried on in the arena of wildlife management. There are many management techniques that do not require restriction of the means of access to the hunting area. He thanked the committee for listening to him. TAPE 98-20, SIDE B Number 0001 CHAIR JAMES stated that she would close the public testimony on HB 168 with the exception of Wayne Regelin of the Department of Fish and Game. She stated the committee would hear from Mr. Regelin at the next hearing on HB 168. House Bill 168 was held for further consideration. ADJOURNMENT Number 0011 CHAIR JAMES adjourned the House State Affairs Standing Committee meeting at 10:00 a.m.