Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/13/1996 09:30 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
                             MINUTES                                           
                    SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                   
                          13 March 1996                                        
                            9:30 A.M.                                          
  TAPES                                                                        
                                                                               
  SFC-96, #39, Sides 1 and 2                                                   
  SFC-96, #40, Side 1                                                          
                                                                               
  CALL TO ORDER                                                                
                                                                               
  Senator  Rick Halford,  Co-chair,  convened  the meeting  at                 
  approximately 9:30 A.M.                                                      
                                                                               
  PRESENT                                                                      
                                                                               
  Co-chairman Halford  along with co-chairman  Frank, Senators                 
  Phillips, Sharp, Rieger  and Zharoff  were present when  the                 
  meeting   convened.      Senator   Donley  arrived   shortly                 
  thereafter.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Also Attending:  Joe Ambrose, aide to Senator Robin  Taylor;                 
  Stephanie Szymanski,  aide  to Senator  Drue Pearce;  Dwight                 
  Perkins,   Special   Assistant   to  the   Office   of   the                 
  Commissioner,  Department  of   Labor;  Catherine   Reardon,                 
  Director, Occupational Licensing, Department of Commerce and                 
  Economic Development; Steven  Dougherty, Assistant  Attorney                 
  Generan,   Department   of  Law;   Mike   Greany,  Director,                 
  Legislative Finance Division; and  other aides to  committee                 
  members.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Captain Joe  D'Amico, Commercial Crimes  Bureau, Division of                 
  Fish  & Wildlife  Protection,  Department  of Public  Safety                 
  testified via teleconference.                                                
                                                                               
  SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                          
                                                                               
  SENATE BILL NO. 278                                                          
  "An Act  relating  to the  authority  of the  Department  of                 
  Natural Resources  to allow  credits against  fees at  state                 
  historical parks."                                                           
                                                                               
  Joe  Ambrose,  aide  to Senator  Robin  Taylor  testified on                 
  behalf of  SB 278.  Senator  Sharp MOVED SB 278  and without                 
  objection    it   was    REPORTED   OUT    with   individual                 
  recommendations  and zero  fiscal  note from  Department  of                 
  Natural Resources.                                                           
                                                                               
                                                                               
  SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 31                                               
  Proposing an amendment  to the Constitution of  the State of                 
  Alaska  relating  to   voter  ratification  of   legislative                 
  approval of amendments of the Alaska Statehood Act affecting                 
  an interest of the State of Alaska under that Act.                           
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Stephanie  Szymanski testified.   Senator Sharp  moved CSSJR                 
  31(FIN)  and  without  objection it  was  REPORTED  OUT with                 
  individual recommendations and fiscal notes of $2.2 from the                 
  Division  of  Elections  and zero  from  the  office  of the                 
  Governor.                                                                    
                                                                               
                                                                               
  HOUSE BILL NO. 335                                                           
  "An Act relating  to the Big Game Commercial Services Board,                 
  guide-outfitters,  transporters,  and commercial  use permit                 
  holders;  extending  the termination  date  of the  Big Game                 
  Commercial  Services Board;  and providing for  an effective                 
  date."                                                                       
                                                                               
  Dwight  Perkins,  Special  Assistant  to  the  Commissioner,                 
  Department of  Labor testified  that the  Department opposes                 
  exemptions.   Catherine  Reardon,  Director of  Occupational                 
  Licensing, Department of  Commerce and Economic  Development                 
  reviewed proposed  amendments of  the Division  to SCS  CSHB                 
  335(FIN).  It  was decided that a new CS should be prepared.                 
  Captain Joe D'Amico, Commercial  Crimes Bureau, Division  of                 
  Fish & Wildlife Protection, Department of Public Safety also                 
  testified via  teleconference.   Pending preparation  of new                 
  CS, bill was held in committee.                                              
                                                                               
                                                                               
       SENATE BILL NO. 278                                                     
                                                                               
       "An Act relating to the  authority of the Department of                 
  Natural   Resources to allow  credits against fees  at state                 
  historical     parks."                                                       
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Mr. Joe Ambrose, aide to Senator Robin Taylor was invited to                 
  join the committee and testified on  behalf of SB 278.  This                 
  bill  was  introduced  to  address  concerns raised  by  the                 
  Ketchikan Area State Parks Advisory  Board and the Ketchikan                 
  Gateway Borough Assembly.   It would provide  a mechanism by                 
  which the  Division of  Parks and  Outdoor Recreation  could                 
  acquire two  small parcels of  land adjacent to  Totem Bight                 
  State  Historical Park.    Ketchikan  Public Utilities  will                 
  vacate  the  property  which will  revert  to  the Ketchikan                 
  Gateway Borough.   SB 278 would  allow DNR to offer  credits                 
  against fees paid by commercial  operators for payments made                 
  to a municipality  for projects that would  alleviate access                 
  congestion and parking  problems at  historical parks.   The                 
  Division of Parks  and Outdoor Recreation indicated  the use                 
  of this provision  at any State  Historical Park other  than                 
  Totem  Bight is  unlikely.   The  authority would  sunset on                 
  December 31,  2000.   This three  year window  is needed  to                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  avoid drawing too quickly against fees.                                      
                                                                               
  Totem Bight is  a twelve and a half  acre State Park located                 
  north of the city of Ketchikan.  It had an estimated 160,000                 
  visitors in 1995, half of them arriving on commercial tours.                 
  In 1977 it was estimated that  the park could handle between                 
  636 and 744 people at one time.   Actual use now exceeds 925                 
  people.  The park has only  7 parking spaces for buses.   Up                 
  to 21 buses  park in the lot, on the road shoulders and at a                 
  nearby gift shop.  Park staff advises independent travellers                 
  and local park users to avoid the park when the ships are in                 
  town.  To mitigate this  overcrowding and congestion DNR  is                 
  proposing  tour  operators pay  for  the acquisition  of the                 
  borough-owned parcels  to provide  additional parking  space                 
  and  additional  attractions such  as  trails and  a carving                 
  demonstration  area.  The  Department of  Transportation has                 
  told  us  they  are  interested  in developing  a  transport                 
  enhancement project  along the  road at Totem  Bight if  the                 
  land becomes available.   Totem Bight  is a valuable  asset,                 
  the  State has  invested  more than  $1  million in  capital                 
  improvement  projects  in  the  past  10  years.    Mr.  Jim                 
  Stratton,   Division   Director   advised   that  they   are                 
  anticipating they  would  be  using  approximately  $150,000                 
  credits for this  project.   Senator Taylor is  a long  time                 
  supporter of this unique facility on the water.                              
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger asked if the sponsor of the bill would object                 
  to  expanding  the  bill  to   include  private,  non-profit                 
  corporations.                                                                
  Mr. Ambrose indicated  the sponsor preferred to  confine the                 
  bill to historical parks.                                                    
                                                                               
  Senator  Sharp  asked if  the  bill  results in  allowing  a                 
  partial or total diversion of payments now being made to DNR                 
  to  a municipality  for  improvements they  would do  on the                 
  parking  lot, why doesn't  the fiscal note  show a reduction                 
  program  receipt.  Mr. Ambrose  said that the department was                 
  planning to increase the fees, not as a result of this bill,                 
  and  his  understanding  as  far  as  the  fiscal  note  was                 
  concerned is that the end  result is the State ends up  with                 
  the asset.   Senator Sharp  also asked about  the parcel  of                 
  land owned by the Ketchikan  Public Utilities that they plan                 
  to vacate and would it revert  back to the Ketchikan Gateway                 
  Borough.  Is this a transfer or sale?  Mr. Ambrose indicated                 
  that there was no sale.  The property originally belonged to                 
  Ketchikan Gateway Borough and KPU had  been using it.  There                 
  was a reversion clause and they  have to put it back in  its                 
  original condition.                                                          
                                                                               
  Senator Frank asked if they were  going to increase the fees                 
  because it is now  a more convenient facility.   Mr. Ambrose                 
  said the decision  to increase  the fee next  year was  made                 
  prior  to  anyone  even  talking  about  this  bill.     The                 
  Department would have to explain the fiscal note.                            
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger said if this was to be a single park it might                 
  not  matter.    A private,  non-profit  corporation  in many                 
  situations  would  be   the  best  entity  to   develope  an                 
  improvement in  a park.   Sometimes  there is  some lack  of                 
  confidence in the municipal government to do what the people                 
  in the area want.   Instead of restricting the  entity doing                 
  the improvements as to municipalities,  it should be brought                 
  into   private,  non-profits  to   avoid  the  problems  you                 
  sometimes have  when city  halls' views  are different  from                 
  those of the people outside of city hall.                                    
                                                                               
  Senator  Phillips  said  there is  an  Eagle  River Visitors                 
  Center  that  is  going to  go  non-profit  to  operate that                 
  facility and he would like to give them that ability.    Co-                 
  chairman Halford said that  this could be a  pilot, one-time                 
  project but would  not make it the policy of the State.  Mr.                 
  Ambrose said that  the municipality would not be  making the                 
  improvement.  They  will be transferring the property to the                 
  State and  improvements at Totem  Bight State Park  are made                 
  from revenue generators within the  park.  This matter  just                 
  refers to the parking lot.                                                   
                                                                               
  Senator Frank asked  if the park's  budget would go down  by                 
  $150,000 because the program receipts were going to go down.                 
  Co-chairman Halford indicated that they would not.                           
                                                                               
  In answer  to  questions  posed by  members  at  large,  Mr.                 
  Ambrose indicated that there were  other historical parks in                 
  the  State, however they  do not  have the  parking problems                 
  this one has.  This is a very specific  bill.  When the idea                 
  came up the concern  that the Co-chairman had was  the first                 
  thing Senator Taylor  thought about.  What  authority are we                 
  to give them?   That is why the sunset provision  is drafted                 
  as closely as it is.                                                         
                                                                               
  Senator Sharp MOVED  SB 278 and  without objection the  bill                 
  was REPORTED OUT with individual  recommendations and a zero                 
  fiscal note from the Department of Natural Resources.                        
                                                                               
                                                                               
       CS FOR SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 31(FIN)                              
                                                                               
       Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State                 
  of   Alaska relating to voter approval  of amendments of the                 
  Alaska    Statehood Act affecting  an interest of  the State                 
  of Alaska      under that Act.                                               
                                                                               
  Stephanie Szymanski, aide to Senator Drue Pearce was invited                 
  to  join  the committee  and  testified on  behalf  of CSSJR                 
  31(FIN).    She  indicated  the  language  was substantially                 
  reworded  from  the  judiciary  version  and  she  clarified                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  concerns raised at the previous meeting.                                     
                                                                               
  Senator Phillips MOVED  to adopt proposed CSSJR  31(FIN) and                 
  without  objection  it  was  ADOPTED.    Co-chairman Halford                 
  indicated there was a  $2.2 fiscal note from the  Governor's                 
  Office.   Stephanie Szymanski discussed specific language of                 
  placing the matter for election in the next general election                 
  with Senators Zharoff  and Sharp.  Co-chairman  Halford said                 
  that it could go to special election if necessary.                           
                                                                               
  Senator Sharp MOVED  CSSJR 31(FIN) and without  objection it                 
  was REPORTED OUT with  individual recommendations and fiscal                 
  notes of $2.2 from  the Division of Elections and  zero from                 
  the office of the Governor.                                                  
                                                                               
                                                                               
       HOUSE BILL NO. 335                                                      
                                                                               
       "An Act relating  to the  Big Game Commercial  Services                 
  Board,    guide-outfitters, transporters, and commercial use                 
  permit    holders; extending the termination date of the Big                 
  Game      Commercial  Services Board;  and providing  for an                 
  effective      date."                                                        
                                                                               
                                                                               
       CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 335(RES)(title am)                                
                                                                               
       "An Act  extending the termination date of the Big Game                 
       Commercial Services Board; eliminating  the requirement                 
  for a     commercial   use   permit  and   for   payment  of                 
  commercial use permit    fees;  amending  the  membership of                 
  the Big Game Commercial  Services  Board;  relating  to  the                 
  qualifications for an    assistant  guide-outfitter license;                 
  eliminating the requirement   for   testing   of   assistant                 
  guide-outfitters; providing for    additional      licensing                 
  requirements for transporters;     eliminating           the                 
  requirement for prior approval to enter or   remain on state                 
  and federal land; eliminating the requirement     t        o                 
  register base camps;  amending the  definition of 'big  game                 
       commercial services';  and providing  for an  effective                 
  date."                                                                       
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Mr.  Dwight  Perkins,  Special  Assistant,   Office  of  the                 
  Commissioner, Department of  Labor was  invited to join  the                 
  committee  and  testified  with  regards  to   amending  the                 
  exemptions  found in  AS  23.10.055  to include  individuals                 
  employed as guides and assistant  guides from entitlement to                 
  minimum wage  and overtime  for the first  sixty days  while                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  hunting  in  the   field.    The  Department  of  Labor  has                 
  historically  opposed these kinds  of exemptions  because it                 
  just eliminates another  class of employees from  having the                 
  opportunity to receive minimum wage and overtime.                            
                                                                               
  Co-chairman Halford indicated a long  list of exclusions and                 
  noted that this  is a smaller  exemption than most of  those                 
  already existing in the law.  Mr. Perkins concurred that the                 
  exemption does just  carve out a  minimum of time, i.e.  the                 
  sixty days.  The  Department feels that this equates  to the                 
  hunting season.  Co-chairman Halford explained this bill was                 
  advocated  due  to the  fact that  there  was not  usually a                 
  supervisor available and  the person running the  camp could                 
  decide  whether  to work  longer hours.    There is  no real                 
  authority.   Wage and Hour has  to make a  decision based on                 
  this information only.                                                       
                                                                               
  Catherine  Reardon,  Director,  Occupational  Licensing  was                 
  invited  to  join  the committee.    She  noted  this was  a                 
  complete rewrite of  the statute and reviewed  amendment #1,                 
  duties and powers of the  Department.  During discussion  of                 
  this amendment Senator Zharoff asked  for a clarification of                 
  the word "current", page  3, line 6.  Ms.  Reardon explained                 
  that the  language appeared on  page 4, line 8  and was just                 
  transferred  over.    Senator  Rieger  asked that  the  word                 
  "appropriate"  be  inserted   on  line  3  page   27  before                 
  "...disciplinary..."  and Ms.  Reardon  concurred.   Senator                 
  Phillips noted that what may be  an offense in one state may                 
  not be an offense in Alaska.  Ms.  Reardon stated the theory                 
  is that someone who will violate  laws in another state will                 
  have a propensity to ignore the laws here.                                   
                                                                               
  Captain Joe  D'Amico, Commercial Crimes Bureau,  Division of                 
  Fish and Wildlife  Protection testified via  teleconference.                 
  He concurred with Ms. Reardon's comments and noted the issue                 
  is whether or not the law was broken and the individual  was                 
  charged or convicted.  Co-chairman Halford said that someone                 
  with a conviction  was excluded.  Captain  D'Amico indicated                 
  that  there  had  been  only  a  very  few  cases  where  an                 
  individual  wanted  to  challenge  their  conviction.    Ms.                 
  Reardon  further  indicated  that  the  amendment   included                 
  "revoked or suspended in Alaska or another jurisdiction".                    
  This would also include Canada and other countries.  Senator                 
  Phillips questioned the terms "outfitter"  and "guide".  Co-                 
  chairman Halford   said  that was why  the term  "outfitter"                 
  needed to be added.  He flagged these objections for further                 
  discussion.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Ms.   Reardon   continued  on   to  amendment   #2,  license                 
  qualifications.    Co-chairman  Halford  said  that  it  was                 
  difficult for rural Alaskans to find a place to take the CPR                 
  and first aid test  and then the card was only  good for one                 
  year, whereas the license was good for two years.  It should                 
  be a requirement  for getting a  license but he opposed  the                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  first aid requirement because he felt this was a barrier for                 
  rural residents.  Ms. Reardon  indicated that he was correct                 
  and one  only needed  a current first  aid or  CPR card  for                 
  renewal of the license.                                                      
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger questioned the $500  fine and Senator Zharoff                 
  wanted to know an  example of what would cause a  fine to be                 
  $500.  Captain D'Amico said that under current law any guide                 
  or game violation would  likely result in a fine  over $500.                 
  Co-chairman  Halford  asked  if  the  current  standard  was                 
  perhaps a  little too  tight?    He  concurred with  Captain                 
  D'Amico that the whole  package needed to be looked  at with                 
  regards to what a  violation is, what the standards  are for                 
  license actions, Court actions and administrative penalties.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Ms. Reardon continued  on to amendment #3,  registered guide                 
  license.  Co-chairman Halford indicated that page 4, lines 9                 
  -  13  will remain  open  for further  consideration  of how                 
  enforcement should be  dealt with.  He  and Senator Phillips                 
  discussed the experience  requirement to  take the test  and                 
  co-chairman  Halford indicated  that  they  were  trying  to                 
  advocate currency in  the experience requirement.   He noted                 
  that  page  4,  line  28   would  remain  open  for  further                 
  discussion.  Senator Zharoff asked  about proof of financial                 
  responsibility.  Ms. Reardon said  that current law requires                 
  liability insurance and  this amendment  would expand it  to                 
  include assets.                                                              
                                                                               
  Ms. Reardon continued to amendment #4, renewal of registered                 
  guide  license.   She  noted that  in  this section  she was                 
  deleting  the  hunt  records.    Captain D'Amico  said  that                 
  harvest  information  is  all included  on  one  document at                 
  present.  Co-chairman Halford  said that page 6, line  27 he                 
  would hold open for further discussion.                                      
                                                                               
  Ms. Reardon continued on to  amendment #5, qualifications to                 
  be class  A assistant  guide license.   Co-chairman  Halford                 
  said that they would need  to have a substantive  discussion                 
  on the standard  of discipline for both  disqualification of                 
  license and for the administrative action for penalties when                 
  added  to  the Court's  actions.   Further  policy questions                 
  remain on rural residents  qualifying for class-A  assistant                 
  guide licenses and first aid requirements.                                   
                                                                               
  Co-chairman Halford  asked Captain  D'Amico for  information                 
  regarding process and penalties for  violation of a tagging,                 
  reporting,  export  license or  fee  requirement as  a minor                 
  violation; process and penalties for wanton waste violation.                 
  Captain D'Amico referred  to four violations that  result in                 
  automatic license revocation under current law page 11, line                 
  27.  In addition to the license action any one of these four                 
  violations  could  bring a  criminal  sentence in  the guide                 
  statute for up to one year  and $30,000 fine plus additional                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  criminal  sanctions available  under Title  16  ranging from                 
  $5,000 to a year in jail.  These refer  to state violations.                 
  He  referred to a  tagging violation of  a sheep which  is a                 
  $100  mail  in bail.    The  guide, however,  faces  a guide                 
  violation which has up to a $30,000 fine and a year in jail.                 
   Co-chairman  Halford asked  about special  felony provision                 
  for  guides  and Captain  D'Amico said  it was  for multiple                 
  offenders  who  had  one conviction  on  a  guide violation.                 
  There is presumptive law in the  new bill that would mandate                 
  a  two-year  sentence for  some  of those  violations.   Ms.                 
  Reardon indicated  that the reason  they would like  to keep                 
  the  civil  option  open  is  because  if someone  has  done                 
  something relatively minor  and Public Safety does  not take                 
  them to court, a more mild sanction can be imposed through a                 
  civil action.                                                                
                                                                               
  (change to tape SFC-96, #40, Side 1)                                         
                                                                               
  Senator  Phillips   asked  Captain  D'Amico  if   they  were                 
  adequately equipped to enforce the laws at present.  Captain                 
  D'Amico indicated  that he  was concerned  about losing  the                 
  commercial use permit fee because  those funds were targeted                 
  for rural  Alaska Game and  Guiding Enforcement.   Under the                 
  current system, however, an adequate job  is being done.  He                 
  did voice concern that judges did not generally handle guide                 
  license sentencing and  referred that  to the guide  boards.                 
  However, if a guide has a potential of losing his license he                 
  is more apt  to have a  trial and that  will affect the  way                 
  matters are handled.   Senator Phillips voiced  concern over                 
  the  ability  to enforce  the law  in  order to  protect the                 
  conservation of the  resources in the  state.  He cited  the                 
  hunting of animals in closed season, including fishing.                      
                                                                               
  Co-chairman  Halford  said  the  questions  now  before  the                 
  committee were how to deal with prior felonies; exclusion of                 
  felons and,  if  so,  for  how  long;  prior  violations  of                 
  hunting-sportfishing-guiding-outfitting  statutes; exclusion                 
  of  licensing  for  how  long;   the  big  four  violations;                 
  automatic revocation of license or  a suspension of license;                 
  dealing  with smaller  violations; and  dealing with  second                 
  smaller violations.  This all has to be reviewed.                            
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger referred to peer review and felt this was not                 
  a good dependable policy.  Co-chairman Halford said one gets                 
  knowledge  but  not impartiality  under  this system.   Some                 
  standards  have  to   be  set  up.    Senator  Zharoff  said                 
  originally  this  was  a  user  friendly bill  toward  rural                 
  residents.  He asked what criteria was used for non-resident                 
  fees?    Catherine Reardon said for criteria she just simply                 
  said "double".                                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Sharp was concerned about the  "big four" violations                 
  and the  conflict between  state and  federal regulations.                   
  Captain D'Amico felt  this was a valid concern.  He said the                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  reason the federal regulations were  included was to protect                 
  national parks, such as Mt.  Denali and Katmai.  Co-chairman                 
  Halford  also  indicated  his   concern.    Captain  D'Amico                 
  referred to a case where a bandit had gotten into a national                 
  park, which  state game regulations do not address, and then                 
  the state was  unable to take  license action.  The  concern                 
  now  is that the  feds are managing  more areas  and they do                 
  occasionally have areas open that the state does not or vice                 
  versa.   Co-chairman Halford  referred to  amendment #9  and                 
  wanted  to know  who decided  "convicted of"  as  opposed to                 
  "violated".  Ms. Reardon said  that the Department through a                 
  hearing officer decided.  She also referred  to the possible                 
  options for disciplinary  actions the department may  take.                  
  Co-chairman Halford and  Ms. Reardon discussed dealing  with                 
  the  level  of enforcement.    She  noted that  it  was very                 
  difficult  to  get   a  hearing   officer  to  recommend   a                 
  revocation.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Mr. Steven Dougherty, assistant Attorney General, Department                 
  of  Law was invited to  join the committee.   In response to                 
  co-chairman Halford's question  regarding non-resident  fees                 
  he said  that the  Court had  put forth  some standards  for                 
  imposing  fee differentials.   Non-residents can be required                 
  to pay their fair share of  the administration of a program.                 
  It must be shown that non-residents should have to pay extra                 
  because residents are already contributing their fare share.                 
  He noted that the "Carlson case"  was now before the Supreme                 
  Court for the second time.   Initially it was held that non-                 
  residents have to  pay the full cost  of administration even                 
  if state residents are being  subsidized in some manner  and                 
  it was rejected by the Court.  The Court further stated that                 
  mere bald assertion was  not sufficient.  Facts and  figures                 
  must be supplied to show how the residents and non-residents                 
  become comparable.   Basically,  the  State constitution  is                 
  more limiting.                                                               
                                                                               
  Co-chairman Halford HELD HB 335 in  committee and said a new                 
  draft  should be  presented with  the division's  amendments                 
  involving management and technical rewrites highlighted.                     
                                                                               
                                                                               
       SENATE BILL NO. 309                                                     
                                                                               
       "An Act relating to insurance pooling."                                 
                                                                               
  Co-chairman  Halford   introduced  the   bill  relating   to                 
  insurance  pooling  as requested  by  the Home  Builders and                 
  there was NO OBJECTION.   The bill was subsequently numbered                 
  SB 309 and read across on the Senate Floor.                                  
                                                                               
                                                                               
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  The meeting was adjourned at approximately 11:27 A.M.                        
                                                                               
                                                                               

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