Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/23/1994 03:37 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                   SENATE RESOURCES COMMITTEE                                  
                         March 23, 1994                                        
                           3:37 P.M.                                           
                                                                               
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Senator Mike Miller, Chairman                                                 
 Senator Loren Leman, Vice Chairman                                            
 Senator Steve Frank                                                           
 Senator Drue Pearce                                                           
 Senator Dave Donley                                                           
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Senator Al Adams                                                              
 Senator Fred Zharoff                                                          
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 293                                                           
 "An Act relating to the authority of the commissioner of natural              
 resources to reconvey, or relinquish an interest in, land to the              
 United States if that land or interest being reconveyed or                    
 relinquished is identified in an amended application for a land               
 allotment under federal law."                                                 
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 311                                                           
 "An Act authorizing a credit against the fishery resource landing             
 tax for certain contributions made by taxpayers not harvesting                
 fisheries resources under a community development quota and for               
 contributions based on fishery resources not harvested under a                
 quota made by taxpayers harvesting fisheries resources under a                
 community development quota, amending the manner of calculating the           
 amount available for revenue sharing by operation of this credit,             
 and expediting agency review of the credit applications under that            
 tax; and providing for an effective date."                                    
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 277                                                           
 "An Act relating to the confidentiality of certain records relating           
 to fish and wildlife; and providing for an effective date."                   
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS ACTION                                                              
                                                                               
 SB 293 - No previous action to record.                                        
                                                                               
 SB 311 - No previous action to record.                                        
                                                                               
 SB 277 - No previous action to record.                                        
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
 Perry Ahsogeak                                                                
 Realty Director                                                               
 Tanana Chief's Conference                                                     
 122 1st Ave., #303                                                            
 Fairbanks, Ak. 99701                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 293.                                      
                                                                               
 Tom Hawkins, Sr. Vice President                                               
 Bristol Bay Native Corporation                                                
 P.O. Box 100220                                                               
 Anchorage, Ak. 99510                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 293.                                      
                                                                               
 Diane Stevens, Realty Officer                                                 
 Arctic Slope Native Corporation, Ltd.                                         
 P.O. Box 1232                                                                 
 Barrow, Ak. 99723                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 293.                                      
                                                                               
 Carl Meyer, Chief of Appeals                                                  
 Excise and Audit Division                                                     
 Department of Revenue                                                         
 P.O. Box 110420                                                               
 Juneau, Ak. 99811-0420                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed SB 311.                                        
                                                                               
 Johne Binkley                                                                 
 5325 Chena Small Tracts                                                       
 Fairbanks, Ak. 99708                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 311.                                      
                                                                               
 Harvey Samuelson                                                              
 Dillingham, Ak.                                                               
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 311.                                      
                                                                               
 Dewey Schwalenberg, Executive Director                                        
 Bering Sea Commercial Fisheries Development Foundation                        
 1577 C St., Ste 310                                                           
 Anchorage, Ak. 99501                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 311.                                      
                                                                               
 Wayne Regelin, Deputy Director                                                
 Division of Wildlife Conservation                                             
 Department of Fish and Game                                                   
 P.O. Box 25526                                                                
 Juneau, Ak. 99802-5526                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 293.                                      
                                                                               
 Gordon Haber                                                                  
 P.O. Box 64                                                                   
 Denali Park, Ak. 99755                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed SB 277.                                        
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-26, SIDE A                                                           
                                                                               
 Number 001                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN MILLER called the Resources Committee meeting to order at            
 3:37 p.m. and announced  SB 293  (NATIVE ALLOTMENTS ON STATE LAND) to    to   
 be up for consideration.                                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR JACKO, sponsor, said this bill would resolve one of the               
 conflicts in Wood-Tikchik State Park.  He explained there were no             
 provisions in statute for transferring land owned by native                   
 allottees within a state park or any other designated state land              
 area and that's what this bill does.                                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asked why people would want to get rid of parcels               
 that are on state land.  SENATOR JACKO answered that the state is             
 concerned that the people who have the 80 acre parcels will                   
 subdivide the land and build lodges.  He explained that the native            
 allotment requirements don't require that the land has to be used             
 at the time you filed the claim.                                              
                                                                               
 RON SWANSON, Director, Division of Lands, said he strongly supports           
 this bill.  He said the difference between this bill and other                
 bills is that it allows any native allotment anywhere on state land           
 to relocate.  The other three bills only allow native allotments              
 located within state parks to relocate to other state land.  SB 293           
 has a much wider public appeal.  SENATOR JACKO noted that in this             
 bill the Commissioner has the authority to make the transfer and in           
 SB 339 the Director has the authority.                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER asked how many people would take advantage of this             
 legislation.  SENATOR JACKO said of the 159 allotments identified             
 statewide, 104 of them are in Wood-Tikchik State Park.  MR. SWANSON           
 said this bill does cover all native allotments on all state land.            
 He said the vast majority of the applicants would be in Wood-                 
 Tikchik State Park, Denali State Park, and the Haines Bald Eagle              
 Preserve.                                                                     
 SENATOR FRANK asked if there was a use conflict also.  MR. SWANSON            
 answered that native allotments were different than other                     
 inholdings, because the use and occupancies establish the original            
 date.  The application could have come in as late as 1971 which               
 isn't important.  Under his proposal the applicant, the DNR, and              
 the BLM would all have to agree.                                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR FRANK asked what if the allottee wants to stay within the             
 state park unit.  MR. SWANSON explained that it would go through              
 the adjudication process.  BLM would have to determine if it was a            
 valid claim.  They would then request the DNR to reconvey the land            
 to BLM; they would make a best interest finding and if the answer             
 is no, the only resort is for the federal government Department of            
 Justice to sue the state to reclaim title to the land.  This does             
 happen quite often and takes a long time, he said.                            
                                                                               
 PERRY AHSOGEAK, Realty Director for the Tanana Chiefs Conference,             
 read a statement in support of SB 293.                                        
                                                                               
 TOM HAWKINS, Sr. Vice President, Bristol Bay Native Corporation,              
 said SB 293 is a useful tool for state land managers.  He supported           
 it strongly.                                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 300                                                                    
                                                                               
 DIANE STEVENS, Realty Officer, Arctic Slope Native Association,               
 Ltd., supported SB 293.                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN moved to pass SB 293 from Committee with individual             
 recommendations.  There were no objections and it was so ordered.             
 Number 370                                                                    
 SENATOR MILLER announced  SB 311  (CREDIT TO FISHERY RESOURCE LANDING    NG   
 TAX) to be up for consideration.                                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR JACKO, sponsor, explained last year a 3.3% landing tax was            
 placed on factory trawlers operating in the waters outside of the             
 state of Alaska.  SB 311 would allow the factory trawlers to be               
 given credit for making a contribution to nonprofit organizations             
 in the amount of 15% of that tax.  It would allow CDQ harvesters              
 who have fish on board that are not part of their CDQ to qualify              
 for the credit as well as the CDQ harvesters.                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR JACKO hoped the money would go to the Bering Sea Commercial           
 Fisheries Development Foundation which provides valuable funding              
 for employment training programs, educational opportunities, and              
 other benefits in western Alaska.  This tax would generate $8 - $10           
 million per year.                                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asked how the credit worked.                                    
                                                                               
 CARL MEYER, Department of Revenue, said the purpose of the landing            
 tax enacted last year was to compliment the fisheries business tax            
 and to compensate the state and local communities for the burdens             
 the offshore trawler fleet was placing on the services the state              
 and municipalities had to pay for.  The Department, therefore, does           
 not support, in principle, further credits against the landing tax.           
 The credits are inconsistent with the underlying purpose of the tax           
 and they erode the revenue available to the state and the impacted            
 municipalities.                                                               
                                                                               
 The way the taxes are shared with the municipalities, MR. MEYER               
 explained, has to do with where the resources are landed.  They do            
 not support the expedited review and approval process that is                 
 provided in this bill.  It appears to require a public hearing                
 process much like the process the department is involved in                   
 promulgating regulations which is somewhat costly and burdensome.             
                                                                               
 MR. MEYER said the way he understands the bill is that the amount             
 of the contribution dollar for dollar would be available as a                 
 credit which would be limited to the 13.65% of the tax. He                    
 commented that he didn't see why the public would want to be                  
 involved in the expedited review process.                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR FRANK asked what kind of nonprofits could qualify.  SENATOR           
 JACKO said that was in other legislation.  MR. MEYER said AS                  
 43.77.040 applies to any state nonprofit corporation.  The only               
 limitation is that nonprofits then use the contribution for a                 
 specific purpose.                                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER asked how much each taxpayer would pay under this              
 legislation.  SENATOR JACKO said it averaged out to $400,000 a                
 piece.                                                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR FRANK said he thought there was merit in focusing some                
 effort in the form of tax credit on getting people trained and                
 employed in this industry.  He asked if this bill was focused                 
 enough to fit that purpose.  SENATOR JACKO said he thought it was.            
                                                                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asked how this would work for a taxpayer harvesting             
 under a CDQ.  MR. MEYER said that 100% of the contribution is                 
 available as a credit.  The only limit is the percentage of the               
 tax.  He reiterated that the Department opposes any further                   
 credits.                                                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR FRANK said he would expect the Department to take that                
 position, and he thought the issue was a policy call by the                   
 legislature.                                                                  
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-26, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 580                                                                   
                                                                               
 JOHNE BINKLEY, Fairbanks, said if SB 311 passes, it would continue            
 to put a tremendous amount of people to work in western Alaska and            
 increase the economic benefits of our fisheries into an area that             
 desperately needs it.  He said the Foundation has been very                   
 effective in putting people to work in jobs that are compatible               
 with their lifestyles.                                                        
                                                                               
 When the legislature passed the tax last year, it was difficult for           
 the industry to justify continuing their voluntary tax to the                 
 Foundation, as well.  They have made it clear to them that when               
 they pay the tax to the state, they won't fund the operations of              
 the Foundation, too.  This is their economic reality.  Dutch Harbor           
 and Kodiak have a tremendous amount of economic activity in                   
 offshore industry and the bulk of the revenues would be generated             
 from that area.  He thought the intent of the bill was to spread              
 the benefits to other impacted communities, as well.                          
 SENATOR LEMAN said there are other taxpayers in the state who give            
 a lot of money to the treasury and they also contribute from their            
 foundations into other community causes.  He asked if these                   
 taxpayers who say they would no longer contribute to their                    
 foundation do so if the offer were a 50% credit instead of a 100%             
 credit.  MR. BINKLEY said he hadn't asked them that specifically,             
 but he guessed they wouldn't.                                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR FRANK asked if they are contributing to the foundation at             
 this point and MR. BINKLEY answered they were.                                
                                                                               
 HARVEY SAMUELSON, Dillingham, supported Mr. Binkley's testimony.              
 He pointed out other good things the Foundation had done for the              
 community.  He noted that a dollar circulates in a village a lot              
 more than it does any place else.  It has cut down on crime and the           
 suicide rate and helps rehabilitate drug users.  It gives the                 
 people something to look forward to.  He said he had never seen a             
 more successful program initiated in the villages.  It should go              
 further by being funded by the state.                                         
                                                                               
 Number 350                                                                    
                                                                               
 DEWEY SCHWALENBERG, Executive Director, Bering Sea Commercial                 
 Fisheries Development Foundation, supported Mr. Binkley's                     
 testimony.  He said the State Training and Employment Program was             
 only able to provide 20% of the support funding for the 240 people            
 under the Foundation.                                                         
                                                                               
 Number 367                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN said he thought incentive to a taxpayer to                      
 participate is warranted, but he was skeptical about 100% credit,             
 because we don't do that for the University, APRN, and others.  He            
 said he was looking at consistency in the state tax laws and                  
 credits.                                                                      
                                                                               
 MR. MEYER commented that he thought most credits were more limited.           
                                                                               
 Number 280                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR FRANK said he thought the real issue was sharing revenue              
 with organizations that are accomplishing a very valuable public              
 purpose.  He said he thought they run the risk of people just not             
 paying if we structure the credit on a 50% basis.                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR FRANK moved to pass SB 311.  There was some discussion and            
 SENATOR MILLER said they would hold the bill until Monday and work            
 with the Department on the expediting issue.                                  
                                                                               
 SENATOR PEARCE requested the Department give them a list of all the           
 tax credits and their percentages, etc. for comparison.                       
 SENATOR MILLER announced  SB 277  (FISH & WILDLIFE CONFIDENTIAL               
 RECORDS) to be up for consideration.                                          
                                                                               
 WAYNE REGELIN, Deputy Director, Division of Wildlife Conservation,            
 said they routinely used radio collars and have always kept this              
 information confidential.  In 1986 they asked the Board of Fish and           
 Game to make it confidential by regulation, because they had                  
 requests from the tourist industry for these frequencies for flight           
 seeing.  In 1990 an amendment was added to insure continued                   
 confidentiality, but they added some words that said, "The                    
 Department shall keep the information confidential when the                   
 knowledge may be detrimental to the wildlife population."  The                
 Department was sued in 1993 for refusing to release the radio                 
 frequency information to a private individual who wished to conduct           
 research on these animals. They were required by the court to                 
 release the information, because they could not prove the                     
 information would not be detrimental to the population.  Such a               
 small number of animals are collared that it would be hard to                 
 prove.                                                                        
                                                                               
 This bill removes "when the knowledge may be detrimental to the               
 wildlife population."  It also adds section (d) which would allow             
 the Department to keep specific locations of capture sites for                
 wildlife research or management confidential.  MR. REGELIN                    
 suggested adding language allowing the release of this information            
 if the requestor is under contract to the state to conduct research           
 on a fish and wildlife population.                                            
                                                                               
 MR. REGELIN added that this type of information in other states is            
 kept confidential.  Federal agencies also keep this information               
 confidential.                                                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN moved to adopt the CS to SB 277, Utermohle, E                   
 version.  There were no objections and it was so ordered.                     
                                                                               
 GORDON HABER, Denali Park, said this bill would make it impossible            
 for any valid scientific research to be conducted on radio collared           
 animals except under ADF&G contract.  The only affect this bill               
 would have would be to suppress the kind of scientific research he            
 is conducting as an independent scientist.  He noted that his                 
 research has cost over $100,000 and it is available to everyone               
 which is a pretty good deal for taxpayers.                                    
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-27, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 001                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. HABER said people in his area are very disturbed about the wolf           
 control program, including the wolf trappers.  They have come to              
 him to help them out.  He said some of the things ADF&G tell them             
 are not true.  For instance wolves do not run from planes, except             
 in rare instances.  He invited them to fly with him to see this.              
 Number 198                                                                    
                                                                               
 SANDRA ARNOLD, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, opposed SB 277.  She said            
 it was introduced specifically in response to their request for               
 public records under the Freedom of Information Act and in response           
 to Dr. Haber's lawsuit.  The future of Alaska will depend more and            
 more on cooperative research and cooperative interaction between              
 agencies and private entities, she said.                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER said he would hold the bill until Mr. Haber could              
 send the rest of the documents he wanted them to see before taking            
 action on the bill.                                                           
 SENATOR MILLER adjourned the meeting at 5:30 p.m.                             
                                                                               

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