Legislature(1995 - 1996)

01/25/1995 03:37 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                   SENATE RESOURCES COMMITTEE                                  
                        January 25, 1995                                       
                           3:37 A.M.                                           
                                                                               
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Senator Loren Leman, Chairman                                                 
 Senator Drue Pearce, Vice Chairman                                            
 Senator Steve Frank                                                           
 Senator Rick Halford                                                          
 Senator Robin Taylor                                                          
 Senator Georgianna Lincoln                                                    
 Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                         
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE MEMBERS ABSENT                                                     
                                                                               
 None absent                                                                   
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 21                                                            
 "An Act relating to penalties for violations of commercial fishing            
 laws."                                                                        
                                                                               
 SRES - 1/25/95                                                                
                                                                               
 SB   3 (ANTITRUST EXEMPTION FOR FISHERMEN) was scheduled, but not             
 taken up this date.                                                           
                                                                               
 SRES - 1/25/95                                                                
                                                                               
 SJR  3 (EXPORT OF ALASKA OIL) was scheduled, but not taken up this            
 date.                                                                         
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS ACTION                                                              
                                                                               
 SB 21 - No previous action to consider.                                       
                                                                               
 SB 3 - No previous action to consider.                                        
                                                                               
 SJR 3 - No previous action to consider.                                       
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
 Dean Paddock                                                                  
 Bristol Bay Driftnetters Association                                          
 P.O. Box 20312                                                                
 Juneau, Ak. 99802                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed SB 21.                                         
                                                                               
 Jerry McCune, President                                                       
 United Fishermen of Alaska                                                    
 211 4th St., Suite 112                                                        
 Juneau, Ak. 99801                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   No position on SB 21.                                  
                                                                               
 Major Buell Russell                                                           
 Detachment Commander                                                          
 Alaska State Troopers                                                         
 Department of Public Safety                                                   
 2760 Sherwood Lane                                                            
 Juneau, Ak. 99801                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered questions regarding SB 21.                    
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
  TAPE 95-1, SIDE A                                                            
                                                                               
 SRES - 1/25/95                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 001                                                                    
        SB  21 FINES FOR COMMERCIAL FISHING VIOLATIONS                        
                                                                              
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN called the Senate Resources Committee meeting to               
 order at 3:37 p.m. and announced SB 21 to be up for consideration.            
                                                                               
 SENATOR HALFORD, sponsor, said this bill increases the maximum                
 potential penalties for commercial fisheries violations.  He                  
 explained that there are no minimum fines in these cases, only                
 maximum fines.  He said this legislation allows for larger fines              
 for commercial fishermen who are serious repeat offenders.                    
                                                                               
 Number 68                                                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN said that the court does have the discretion to issue           
 a lesser fine than the maximums.  He said the legislation intends             
 to target the offenders who make huge financial gains by fishing              
 illegally.                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LINCOLN said in her district the violations are minimal and           
 asked if the sponsor would be willing to leave the first conviction           
 at $3,000 and raise it for subsequent convictions.                            
                                                                               
 SENATOR HALFORD said that there are fishermen who habitually push             
 the line and their first violation might be a $20,000 gain to them.           
                                                                               
 SENATOR LINCOLN asked how many cases this situation would pertain             
 to.  SENATOR HALFORD answered, "Not very many.  It's the deterrent            
 effect you're looking at."                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR noted in a report on pages 6 and 7 that fishermen              
 had begun to be cited for a narrower margin of closed water                   
 fishing.  He said that could mean a significant increase in numbers           
 of violators.  He asked what adjustments were made and if people              
 were notified of them.                                                        
                                                                               
 MAJOR BUELL RUSSELL, Alaska State Troopers, said he didn't have               
 that information with him.                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LINCOLN asked what percent of violators are repeat                    
 offenders.                                                                    
                                                                               
 MAJOR RUSSELL said he didn't have that information, but would get             
 it for her.                                                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR HALFORD noted what disturbed him was on page 7 of the                 
 report which said that even after a Wildlife Enforcement Officer              
 and a violator agree on a penalty, the attorneys representing the             
 state were reducing the penalties after the fact.  This is what               
 frustrated public safety in Bristol Bay in 1993.  The number of               
 fines are increasing while the fines themselves are decreasing.               
                                                                               
 DEAN PADDOCK, Bristol Bay Driftnetters Assoc., was concerned that             
 this legislation applied to fishermen in the whole state of Alaska            
 for strict liability violations which is the lowest category of               
 violation that there is.  He said he believed it was bad                      
 legislation.  The idea of the strict liability violation was sold             
 to legislators a couple of years ago as a "parking ticket                     
 violation."  $3,000 and $6,000 are hefty parking tickets, he said.            
                                                                               
 Number 225                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. PADDOCK said he thought this legislation was primarily                    
 concerning the Egegik line, a difficult situation that he thought             
 ADF&G and the Board of Fisheries should address.                              
                                                                               
 MR. PADDOCK said the Commissioner of Public Safety, Deputy                    
 Commissioner Swackhammer, and Colonel Valentine told him they would           
 like to see a visual line.  He said he supported putting a line of            
 buoys on the north line of Egegik.  He would not like to see the              
 legislature put it into law, however, because that would be                   
 managing the fishery.                                                         
                                                                               
 In response to Senator Halford, he agreed that amending the bill to           
 install a line of buoys was better than to saddle the fishing                 
 industry with these "draconian and uncalled" for measures.                    
                                                                               
 Number 364                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR HOFFMAN asked them to consider leaving the first violation            
 at $3,000, the second at $6,000, $9,000 for the third, and $12,000            
 for the fourth so that the repeat offenders are the ones that are             
 actually penalized.                                                           
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR, referring to his file, said he would like to know             
 who the experienced D.A. and the magistrate were who were reducing            
 fines.                                                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN recessed the meeting at 4:06 and called it back to              
 order at 4:27 p.m.                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 434                                                                    
                                                                               
 JERRY MCCUNE, United Fishermen of Alaska, said he had no position             
 at this time, but was concerned with this being applied statewide             
 when the real problem was just in the area of Bristol Bay.  He was            
 upset that this bill made the whole industry look like a bunch of             
 criminals.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 506                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR said he wanted a meaningful solution that would                
 provide assistance to both the enforcement personnel and to the               
 commercial fishing community concerning the lines in question in              
 Bristol Bay.  He said his experience is that the Resources                    
 Committee knows a great deal more about sentencing guidelines and             
 appellate procedures than most ADF&G officers who rarely appear in            
 court with a rational, considered, reviewed opinion on what the               
 fine should be.                                                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN said he would hold SB 21 for further consideration.             
                                                                               
 SENATOR HOFFMAN reiterated it would make more sense to have a more            
 graduated fine system.                                                        
                                                                               
 There was general agreement that something had to be done to get              
 the multiple offenses down.                                                   
                                                                               
 TAPE 95-1, SIDE B                                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN said the Committee would continue the discussion at             
 the next meeting and adjourned the meeting at 4:45 p.m.                       
                                                                               

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