Legislature(1995 - 1996)
01/25/1995 03:37 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.