Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/01/1996 03:38 PM Senate RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE RESOURCES COMMITTEE April 1, 1996 3:38 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Loren Leman, Chairman Senator Drue Pearce, Vice Chairman Senator Steve Frank Senator Robin Taylor Senator Georgianna Lincoln Senator Lyman Hoffman MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Rick Halford COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE BILL NO. 539 "An Act changing the name of the Alaska Soil and Water Conservation Board." CS FOR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 60(RES) Relating to Revised Statute 2477 rights-of-way. SENATE BILL NO. 311 "An Act relating to marine safety training and education programs." CS FOR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 58(RES) Relating to reauthorization and reform of the Endangered Species Act. PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION HB 539 - No previous action to record. HJR 60 - No previous action to record. SB 311 - No previous action to record. HJR 58 - See Resources minutes dated 3/27/96. WITNESS REGISTER Cheryl Sutton, Staff to House Resources Committee State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1181 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on HB 539 Jeff Hartman, Executive Director Alaska Soil & Water Conservation Board Department of Natural Resources 400 Willoughby Ave. Juneau, AK 99801-1724 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 539 Walt Wilcox, Staff to Representative Jeannette James State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on CSHJR 60(RES) Bill Perhach Alaska Environmental Lobby P.O. Box 22151 Juneau, AK 99802 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to CSHJR 60(RES) Senator John Torgerson State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Prime Sponsor of SB 311 Barbara Burch 668 Anderson Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 311 Pat Holmes P.O. Box 2651 Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 311 James Herbert P.O. Box 1461 Seward, AK 99664 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 311 Jerry Dzugan, Director & Training Coordinator Alaska Marine Safety Education Association 617 Katlian, B-33 Sitka, AK 99835 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 311 Mark Johnson, Chief, Community Health & Emergency Medical Services Division of Public Health Department of Health & Social Services P.O. Box 110616 Juneau, AK 99811-0616 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 311 Mariah Offer P.O. Box 2264 Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 311 Jane Eizman P.O. Box 192 Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 311 Hank Pennington P.O. Box 8183 Kodiak, AK 99615 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 311 Dean Paddock Bristol Bay Driftnetters' Association P.O. Box 20312 Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 311 Betty Martin, Comptroller Treasury Division Department of Revenue P.O. Box 110405 Juneau, AK 99811-0405 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on SB 311 Anthony Kruppe Alaska Environmental Lobby P.O. Box 22151 Juneau, AK 99802 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to CSHJR 58(RES) Jay Nelson Department of Fish & Game P.O. Box 25526 Juneau, AK 99811-5526 POSITION STATEMENT: Responded to questions on CSHJR 58(RES) ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 96-43, SIDE A Number 001 HB 539 NAME CHANGE FOR SOIL AND WATER BOARD CHAIRMAN LEMAN called the Senate Resources Committee meeting to order at 3:38 p.m. He brought HB 539 before the committee as the first order of business. CHERYL SUTTON , staff to the House Resources Committee, explained HB 539 was introduced at the request of the Alaska Soil & Water Conservation Board. The legislation changes the name of the board to the Natural Resources Conservation & Development Board because the present name does not reflect adequately that the board has a resource development as well as a conservation mission. The name change will not affect any of the statutory responsibilities of the board. JEFF HARTMAN , Executive Director, Alaska Soil & Water Conservation Board, Department of Natural Resources, testifying in support of HB 539, said the intent of the name change is to provide more of a potential for opening doors in looking at resource development in the rural areas of the state. There being no further testimony on HB 539, CHAIRMAN LEMAN stated the bill would be set aside until a quorum was established. Number 070 CSHJR 60(RES) RS 2477 HIGHWAY RIGHTS OF WAY CHAIRMAN LEMAN brought CSHJR 60(RES) before the committee as the next order of business. WALT WILCOX , staff to Representative Jeannette James who chairs the House State Affairs committee, explained RS 2477 relates to a federal law that provides for rights-of-way for construction of highways over public lands that are not reserved for public use. In 1976 Congress repealed the RS 2477 but reserved existing rights- of-way created under the statute. The U.S. Department of Interior is attempting to administratively rescind the long standing and widely accepted interpretation of RS 2477 by adopting regulations restrictively defining key statutory terms contrary to the intent of Congress and virtually eliminating RS 2477 rights-of-way in the state of Alaska. He noted legislation has been introduced in Congress to preserve the long-standing judicial and executive interpretations of the RS 2477 and to protect existing rights-of- way previously granted by the federal government. HJR 60 supports passage of the legislation being considered by Congress. Referring to the further resolved clause in the resolution, Mr. Wilcox said it is the sponsor's understanding that perhaps 10 years would be a better idea than using a reasonable period for the assertion, recognition, and determination of the existence of RS 2477 rights-of-way. Mr. Wilcox also pointed out this only relates to public lands, not Native claims or private lands. Number 115 SENATOR LINCOLN noted the Tyonek Native Corporation has written a letter relating to their concern about the RS 2477 crossing through an old village cemetery site. CHAIRMAN LEMAN said he has read the letter and understands the concern. He pointed out the RS 2477 says that state law will determine how this is to be implemented, so it is really a matter of state law, not of federal law. He added that in that particular situation, without prejudging all the merits of it, he would guess that if it is as stated by the Tyonek Native Corporation, the state would conclude that it would not want to assert that right, and if there is need for an access, it would do it a different way. Number 190 CHAIRMAN LEMAN referred to the resolve clause on page 3, lines 8 & 9, which is asking for a reasonable period of time and a process for making these assertions. He suggested amending it to insert 10 years to be consistent with testimony that has already been offered before Congress. MR. WILCOX voiced Representative James' endorsement of the amendment. SENATOR FRANK moved that on page 3, line 9, delete the word "reasonable" and insert "10-year" in its place. Hearing no objection, the Chairman stated the amendment was adopted and would be incorporated into a Resources SCS. BILL PERHACH , representing the Alaska Environmental Lobby, read into the record their position paper in opposition to CSHJR 60(RES). Number 380 SENATOR PEARCE moved SCS CSHJR 60(RES) and the zero fiscal note be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN LEMAN brought HB 539 (NAME CHANGE FOR SOIL AND WATER BOARD) back before the committee. Hearing no additional testimony, he asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR PEARCE moved HB 539 and the accompanying fiscal note be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. SB 311 MARINE SAFETY EDUCATION PROGRAMS CHAIRMAN LEMAN introduced SB 311 as the next order of business. SENATOR JOHN TORGERSON , prime sponsor of SB 311, said he introduced the legislation at the request of commercial fishermen in his district. Basically, the funding for the program has come from the federal government, but with recent budget cuts, it is facing elimination under the current funding level. He noted the same legislation was introduced in the House. Senator Torgerson explained SB 311 allows for the appropriation of 50 percent of the income earned by the state on the balance of the fishermen's fund for grants to the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) for this training program. Senator Torgerson said he recognizes that the entire budget of the training program is somewhat less than 50 percent of what the fund earns, so the 50 percent would overfund them approximately $45,000, and he suggested the committee may want to amend the language to allow appropriating up to 50 percent. Senator Togerson stated he supports the fund and would like to see it continue, and this funding source is one way to ensure that it happens. CHAIRMAN LEMAN agreed that changing the language to up to 50 percent was appropriate in order to protect the integrity of the fishermen's fund. SENATOR TAYLOR moved the following amendment to SB 311: Amendment No. 1. Page l, line 8: After the word "appropriate" insert "up to" Hearing no objection, the Chairman stated the amendment was adopted and would be incorporated into a Resources CS. CHAIRMAN LEMAN opened the public hearing on SB 311. Number 440 BARBARA BURCH , representing the Kodiak Fishermen's Wives and testifying in Kodiak, voiced strong support for SB 311 and the AMSEA program. PAT HOLMES , testifying in Kodiak, stated investing 50 percent of the interest from this fund is a really good investment. He is a biologist for the Department of Fish & Game, and in addition to his fishery management duties, he is also regional safety officer and chair of the department's safety training committee. He said they extensively use the AMSEA materials in their training program, not only for the crews of the vessels that conduct research and enforcement, but also for their seasonal employees who man the field camps. The department's training program is also offered to personnel from the Department of Environmental Conservation and personnel from the Division of Parks. A spin-off program called "Cold Water Kids" is used extensively in many schools in Southeast Alaska and the Gulf of Alaska. He urged the committee's support for SB 311, because without state funding, the program will cease to exist. JAMES HERBERT , testifying in Seward, said he is one of Senator Torgerson's constituents who encouraged him to introduce SB 311 because he supports training for commercial fishermen and mariners in the state. He has been a fisherman in Alaska for over 25 years, and he believes that in recent years, attitude wise, things have changed and a lot of that has to do with the work of the network of volunteers that AMSEA has created throughout the state. He believes the legislation targets a viable source of money, something that reasonably could be used to help prevent further injuries through educating people. JERRY DZUGAN , the director and training coordinator for AMSEA testifying in Sitka, said AMSEA is an Alaska based nonprofit corporation, and they have been training mariners and marine safety instructors from all over Alaska for the last 10 years. He noted Alaska's recreational and commercial boaters suffer the highest fatality rate in the nation. However, partly as a result of AMSEA's efforts and the efforts of all of the volunteers who help AMSEA, the recreational and commercial fishing fatality rate has dropped about 50 percent in the last several years. He also pointed out AMSEA's unique Alaska specific program has been emulated on all other three coasts of the nation and Alaska is now recognized by many in the nation as a place to go for quality hands-on training. He stressed that AMSEA has no secured funding in sight for the next fiscal year. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if private parties contribute to this nonprofit organization and if they are actively soliciting contributions from private parties. MR. DZUGAN replied that AMSEA has about 100 members around the state, and they do contribute to AMSEA's effort. Number 560 MARK JOHNSON , Chief, Community Health & Emergency Medical Services, Department of Health & Social Services, stated drowning is a major problem in the state, and there is no other comprehensive program like AMSEA that is offered in the state to address this issue. He said drowning is not only a problem among the commercial fishing community, it is a statewide problem that affects most regions and most age groups. The department feels AMSEA has been successful, and they believe supporting AMSEA is in the best interest. MARIAH OFFER , an AMSEA instructor testifying in Kodiak, speaking to the importance of the prevention of marine accidents, said AMSEA has been a great support in keeping her up with requirements and changes in regulations and information. TAPE 96-43, SIDE B Number 010 JANE EIZMAN , a 19-year commercial fisherman testifying in Kodiak, spoke to the improvement in safety measures being taken by fishermen in the last 19 years, and she attributed the understanding of safety regulations and the proper use of safety equipment to AMSEA's efforts. She noted she is an AMSEA instructor, as well as teacher of fisheries science at Kodiak High School, and AMSEA is an integral part of her marine and wilderness safety survival training program that she offers at the high school. She added that as a contributor to the Fishermen's Fund for the last 19 years and different licenses that she has purchased, she feels it is an appropriate use of funds. HANK PENNINGTON , testifying in Kodiak, said he has worked on extending marine safety and survival training to fishermen in coastal communities and public schools in Alaska for the last 21 years. He said the genesis of AMSEA was the fact that no single agency had either the expertise or the resources or the geographic coverage to get this training out where it was needed. He voiced his concern that if the legislation does not pass, AMSEA will wither. He said what is needed is a stable base of funding for AMSEA. DEAN PADDOCK , testifying in Juneau on behalf of the Bristol Bay Driftnetters' Association, said public safety is one of the truly legitimate functions of government. The present day demand for AMSEA came as a federal mandate, and it was a temporarily funded mandate. He pointed out that it is already a user funded activity; the fishermen have already paid. He said AMSEA has done a great job at a very low cost benefit ratio, and he urged passage of the legislation. SENATOR LINCOLN offered as an amendment to page 1, line 8, after the word "income" insert "from interest." She said if at some time in the future there is any other type of income that is earned by the fishermen's fund, this would clarify that the "up to 50 percent of the income earned" relates to interest income. BETTY MARTIN , Comptroller, Treasury Division, Department of Revenue, explained that the fund could also earn realized and unrealized gains. Currently, it earns actual interest that is paid into it, and then there is realized and unrealized gains on the fixed income securities, and all of that, the net number, is paid into the general fund annually. SENATOR TORGERSON asked Ms. Martin if she thought Senator Lincoln's amendment was a good amendment for the purpose of the bill. MS. MARTIN said she thought it was, because it will make a more consistent cash flow to the fund. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if there was any objection to Senator Lincoln's amendment. Hearing no objection, he stated the amendment was adopted. He then asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR PEARCE moved CSSB 311(RES) and the accompanying fiscal notes be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 235 CSHJR 58(RES) REFORM THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT CHAIRMAN LEMAN brought CSHJR 58(RES) before the committee as the final order of business. ANTHONY KRUPPE , representing the Alaska Environmental Lobby (AEL), stated they have several concerns with the legislation, but they have narrowed it down to the two most important things that they believe will strengthen the resolution. The first suggested change is to delete the resolve clause on page 2, lines 7-9, which requests the Congress to proceed with reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act, using HR 2275 as the basis for the reauthorization legislation. He said he believes that by deleting those lines, it will make the resolution a bit stronger because AEL does not believe that HR 2275 is a piece of legislation that the Alaska Legislature should support. The second suggested change is to delete lines 22 and 23 on page 2 which eliminates the concept of "distinct population segment" from the definition of "species." He said the concern with distinct population segments in the definition of species could be resolved by establishing an interpretation of the definition similar to the policy supported by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Their specification designates that species must satisfy particular criteria distinguishing the segment of species as reproductively isolated and significant in the evolution of the species. CHAIRMAN LEMAN commented that if HR 2275 is used as the basis, it does not necessarily mean that the bill as originally introduced will become law. It is a starting point, and as Congress works to get a consensus, the bill will probably be crafted along the way to accommodate concerns, so he thinks using it as the mark-up vehicle is fine, at least from the Alaska perspective, because it probably comes the closest to accommodating some of the concerns we have as a state to the implementation of ESA. Number 400 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if it was correct that the "distinct population segment" is causing problems with the management of our fisheries in Alaska. JAY NELSON , Department of Fish & Game, confirmed that the listed population of Snake River fall chinook that is causing problems for the fisheries in Alaska is listed under the "distinct population segment" provision of the law. He added that the problem with the "distinct population segment" is it benefits the state with regard to land vertebrates, in general, but with fish it is a different situation. He said while the administration is not satisfied with a blanket removal of the "distinct population segment" provision, it agrees there probably needs to be a more surgical solution to it. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if inserting the words "for anadromous fish" after the word "species" would help. MR. NELSON responded that would definitely be more surgical. Number 455 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the Governor agrees with the position that the Queen Charlotte goshawk and the Alexander Archipelago wolf are distinct population segments deserving attention under ESA. MR. NELSON responded that the Alexander Archipelago wolf and the Queen Charlotte goshawk were both requested to be listed by a private group based in the Lower 48 with two Alaskan citizens involved. The proposal to list it as an endangered species was opposed by the department, as well as opposed by the federal government, and now there are pending lawsuits by that same private party to list them. He added that the Queen Charlotte goshawk and the Alexander Archipelago wolf are classified as subspecies. He said changing that from a subspecies is a complicated thing, and the department has not taken a position on that. Even if they were eliminated as a subspecies, they still might under the Fish & Wildlife Service decision fall under "distinct population segment." He also said the Governor does not view HR 2477 as the best vehicle for reauthorization of the Act. TAPE 96-44, SIDE A Number 015 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the Governor is doing what he can to make certain that this legislation doesn't pass. MR. NELSON answered that with the exception of one letter from the Governor, they have done nothing in the way of working on this legislation in Washington, D.C. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the Governor's letter was supportive, and MR. NELSON answered that it wasn't. CHAIRMAN LEMAN commented that if the Governor had a positive approach and told Mr. Katz that we want to work this really hard and help our delegation, then we might have a little bit different resolution. There being no further testimony on CSHB 58(RES), CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR TAYLOR moved CSHJR 58(RES) be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. SENATOR HOFFMAN objected. A vote of the committee was taken with the following result: Senators Frank, Pearce, Taylor and Leman voted "Yea" and Senator Hoffman voted "Nay." The Chairman stated the motion carried. There being no further business to come before the committee, the meeting was adjourned at 5:16 p.m.