Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

01/23/2006 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        January 23, 2006                                                                                        
                           3:27 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Thomas Wagoner, Chair                                                                                                   
Senator Ben Stevens                                                                                                             
Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                                              
Senator Bert Stedman                                                                                                            
Senator Kim Elton                                                                                                               
Senator Albert Kookesh                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Ralph Seekins, Vice Chair                                                                                               
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 107(FIN)                                                                                                  
"An  Act  relating  to  unlawful   obstruction  or  hindrance  of                                                               
hunting,  fishing, trapping,  or  viewing of  fish  or game;  and                                                               
amending Rule 82, Alaska Rules  of Civil Procedure, and Rule 508,                                                               
Alaska Rules of Appellate Procedure."                                                                                           
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
HOUSE BILL NO. 269                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to contribution actions relating to the release                                                                
of a hazardous substance; and providing for an effective date."                                                                 
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 107                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: HUNTING/FISHING INTERFERENCE                                                                                       
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) RAMRAS                                                                                            
01/24/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/24/05       (H)       RES, JUD                                                                                               
02/02/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
02/02/05       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/02/05       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
02/09/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
02/09/05       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/09/05       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
02/16/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
02/16/05       (H)       Moved CSHB 107(RES) Out of Committee                                                                   
02/16/05       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
02/18/05       (H)       RES RPT CS(RES) NT 3DP 1DNP 4NR                                                                        
02/18/05       (H)       DP: OLSON, ELKINS, RAMRAS;                                                                             
02/18/05       (H)       DNP: SEATON;                                                                                           
02/18/05       (H)       NR: GATTO, LEDOUX, CRAWFORD, KAPSNER                                                                   
02/18/05       (H)       FIN REFERRAL ADDED AFTER JUD                                                                           
03/02/05       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
03/02/05       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/02/05       (H)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
03/04/05       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
03/04/05       (H)       Moved CSHB 107(JUD) Out of Committee                                                                   
03/04/05       (H)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
03/07/05       (H)       JUD RPT CS(JUD) NT 3DP 3NR                                                                             
03/07/05       (H)       DP: GRUENBERG, ANDERSON, MCGUIRE;                                                                      
03/07/05       (H)       NR: DAHLSTROM, COGHILL, GARA                                                                           
03/15/05       (H)       FIN AT 1:30 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519                                                                       
03/15/05       (H)       Moved CSHB 107(FIN) Out of Committee                                                                   
03/15/05       (H)       MINUTE(FIN)                                                                                            
03/16/05       (H)       FIN RPT CS(FIN) NT 2DP 6NR                                                                             
03/16/05       (H)       DP: HAWKER, STOLTZE;                                                                                   
03/16/05       (H)       NR: WEYHRAUCH, CROFT, MOSES, KELLY,                                                                    
                        MEYER, CHENAULT                                                                                         
05/08/05       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
05/08/05       (H)       VERSION: CSHB 107(FIN)                                                                                 
05/09/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
05/09/05       (S)       RES, JUD                                                                                               
01/23/06       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: HB 269                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE RELEASE LIABILITY                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) RAMRAS                                                                                            
04/14/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/14/05       (H)       RES, JUD                                                                                               
04/22/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
04/22/05       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/25/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
04/25/05       (H)       Moved Out of Committee                                                                                 
04/25/05       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
04/26/05       (H)       RES RPT 4DP 2NR                                                                                        
04/26/05       (H)       DP: OLSON, LEDOUX, ELKINS, RAMRAS;                                                                     
04/26/05       (H)       NR: GATTO, CRAWFORD                                                                                    
04/27/05       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
04/27/05       (H)       Moved Out of Committee                                                                                 
04/27/05       (H)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/28/05       (H)       JUD RPT 6DP                                                                                            
04/28/05       (H)       DP: KOTT, ANDERSON, DAHLSTROM, COGHILL,                                                                
                         GARA, MCGUIRE                                                                                          
04/30/05       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
04/30/05       (H)       VERSION: HB 269                                                                                        
05/01/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
05/01/05       (S)       RES, JUD                                                                                               
01/23/06       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
JIM POUND                                                                                                                       
Staff to Representative Ramras                                                                                                  
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented sponsor statement on CSHB                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE JAY RAMRAS                                                                                                       
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 107 and HB 269.                                                                             
MR. BRECK TOSTEVIN                                                                                                              
Department of Law                                                                                                               
PO Box 110300                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99811-0300                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 269.                                                                                         
GEORGE LYLE                                                                                                                     
Justin Rudd                                                                                                                     
Anchorage AK                                                                                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 269.                                                                                         
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  THOMAS  WAGONER  called   the  Senate  Resources  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 3:27:58 PM.  Present were Senators                                                             
Albert Kookesh, Ben Stevens, Bert  Stedman, Fred Dyson, Kim Elton                                                               
and Chair Thomas Wagoner.                                                                                                       
           CSHB 107(FIN)-HUNTING/FISHING INTERFERENCE                                                                       
CHAIR  THOMAS  WAGONER  announced  CSHB 107(FIN)  to  be  up  for                                                               
JIM POUND, staff to Representative  Ramras, delivered the sponsor                                                               
statement. He  related that  CSHB 107(FIN)  corrects an  error in                                                               
law  that  addresses  a growing  concern  about  individuals  and                                                               
groups  who  were  obstructing  hunting,  trapping  and  wildlife                                                               
viewing in Alaska. When an  obstruction takes place, the offender                                                               
can be charged with criminal activity;  he can also be charged in                                                               
a  civil case  by the  aggrieved person.  Juries have  awarded as                                                               
much  as  $200,000 in  these  aggrieved  civil cases.  Currently,                                                               
reasonable attorney  fees and costs are  not necessarily awarded,                                                               
which has a  chilling effect, as this cost is  directly passed on                                                               
to the  plaintiff rather  than the defendant.  HB 107  allows the                                                               
court to authorize  reasonable and actual attorneys  fees when it                                                               
comes to the prevailing party in either case.                                                                                   
3:32:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WAGONER commented that he  read about a lawsuit against the                                                               
state because a helicopter caused a fish to jump out of a seine.                                                                
MR. POUND  responded that  a lawsuit was  brought against  a Fish                                                               
and  Wildlife Protection  officer  whose helicopter  was too  low                                                               
according to  the individual resident, and  the helicopter scared                                                               
away  the  game.  A  similar  case  had to  do  with  fish  in  a                                                               
commercial fishery.  Language was added  to this bill  to prevent                                                               
that from happening  in the future saying that  a law enforcement                                                               
officer,  in  the  line  of duty,  is  not  obstructing  hunting,                                                               
trapping or wildlife viewing.                                                                                                   
3:34:52 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BERT STEDMAN  asked how  viewing  wildlife is  separated                                                               
from hunting and trapping in multi-use areas.                                                                                   
3:35:33 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. POUND clarified  that language on page 1, line  6, states to:                                                               
"intentionally  obstruct   or  hinder  another   person's  lawful                                                               
hunting"  and a  snow  machine causing  an animal  to  move in  a                                                               
multi-use area wouldn't be considered intentional.                                                                              
3:36:44 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEN  STEVENS asked why commercial  fishermen are excluded                                                               
on page 2, lines 20-22.                                                                                                         
MR.  POUND replied  that Representative  Seaton didn't  want this                                                               
law  to  include  commercial  fisheries  when  working  in  close                                                               
proximity  to  each  other,  like  in Bristol  Bay.  One  of  the                                                               
fishermen could try to use this language to fend off another.                                                                   
3:37:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  ELTON asked  if  the punishment  of  a snow-machiner  is                                                               
greater under these provisions or  under the provisions of simply                                                               
hunting or fishing  where they are not supposed to  be hunting or                                                               
MR. POUND  replied that he  hadn't considered that  scenario, but                                                               
an action like that could  possibly be based on someone operating                                                               
a snow machine in a restricted area.                                                                                            
SENATOR  ELTON suggested  that there  could  be multiple  actions                                                               
against a snow-machine operator.                                                                                                
MR. POUND replied that there  could be multiple infractions under                                                               
existing statute right now.                                                                                                     
3:40:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEDMAN asked  how one  differentiates between  wildlife                                                               
viewers and hunters in multiuse areas.                                                                                          
MR. POUND  replied that  this collision  is already  addressed in                                                               
some ways in existing statute.  The arresting officer decides who                                                               
gets charged.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR STEDMAN  asked if  this bill  would make  litigation more                                                               
MR.  POUND replied  that it  would lead  to more  litigation only                                                               
because it  allows the  award of full  attorneys fees,  which has                                                               
not been the policy in the past.                                                                                                
SENATOR  STEDMAN  commented that  this  bill  might enhance  this                                                               
issue  especially  in  multiple  use areas  where  you  might  be                                                               
fishing  in a  stream where  someone may  want to  photograph the                                                               
same fish.                                                                                                                      
MR.  POUND replied  that that  is  the intent.  This issue  arose                                                               
mainly  from  trappers   with  trap  lines  that   had  been  cut                                                               
SENATOR BEN STEVENS  noted that the definition  of full attorneys                                                               
fees has  gone back and  forth from  reasonable and actual  to 90                                                               
percent.  He asked  in  what other  instances  is the  prevailing                                                               
party entitled to full attorney fees.                                                                                           
MR. POUND replied in eminent domain issues.                                                                                     
SENATOR  BEN STEVENS  asked if  this action  would be  brought in                                                               
criminal or civil court.                                                                                                        
MR.  POUND  replied that  both  criminal  and civil  actions  are                                                               
available to  the Department of  Public Safety, but  this applies                                                               
to civil.                                                                                                                       
3:44:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WAGONER  said the required  distance between  drift gillnet                                                               
gear and set net gear is  different in Bristol Bay than in Prince                                                               
William Sound and Southeast; and  the committee needed to look at                                                               
the  phrase,  "an  action  related  to  commercial  fishing".  He                                                               
explained that many  times ADF&G would refuse  to become involved                                                               
when there is  an estimation of distances between  gear types. It                                                               
would be hard for  a set netter to go to  civil court and testify                                                               
that  someone was  a certain  distance  from his  gear without  a                                                               
criminal procedure having been taken first.                                                                                     
MR. POUND  replied that he  thought one fisherman could  bring an                                                               
action  against  another   fisherman  through  an  administrative                                                               
action  since  a   lot  of  their  activities   are  governed  by                                                               
SENATOR ELTON asked  if language on page 2, lines  4 and 5, would                                                               
allow a Southeast  gillnetter to have a private  action against a                                                               
Princess cruise ship or a tug and  barge if, in fact, his net was                                                               
run over by one of them.                                                                                                        
MR. POUND replied that he would have to look that up.                                                                           
SENATOR DYSON responded that he thought yes.                                                                                    
3:48:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEN STEVENS  commented that it seemed that  the intent is                                                               
to prevent a  third party from intervening in the  action, not to                                                               
prevent those individuals who are engaged in commercial fishing.                                                                
MR.  POUND  replied that  he  understands  this would  prevent  a                                                               
commercial  fisherman from  bringing  an  action against  another                                                               
commercial fisherman.                                                                                                           
CHAIR WAGONER  commented that he  didn't know  why Representative                                                               
Seaton  would want  to take  that  stance. All  kinds of  actions                                                               
among commercial fishermen could result in a civil action.                                                                      
3:50:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON  assumed the  purpose  of  this  bill is  to  keep                                                               
activists,  who don't  like hunting,  fishing and  trapping, from                                                               
interfering with  it. He  suspected the sponsor  did not  want to                                                               
delay  action  on a  valuable  bill  because  of its  impacts  on                                                               
commercial fishermen.                                                                                                           
MR. POUND responded that he was correct.                                                                                        
3:51:57 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEN  STEVENS agreed with  Senator Dyson, but  pointed out                                                               
that  it  wasn't  the  sponsor  who  inserted  the  clause  about                                                               
commercial fishing.                                                                                                             
SENATOR DYSON summed  up the question asking if  insertion of the                                                               
phrase on page 2, line 28 didn't clear up the intent.                                                                           
CHAIR  WAGONER announced  that CSHB  107(FIN) would  be held  for                                                               
further discussion.                                                                                                             
          HB 269-HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE RELEASE LIABILITY                                                                      
CHAIR   THOMAS  WAGONER   announced   HB  269   to   be  up   for                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JAY RAMRAS, sponsor of  HB 269, said he introduced                                                               
HB 269, "So we can maintain  a cleaner environment and proceed in                                                               
an expeditious manner to do so."                                                                                                
3:55:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BERT  STEDMAN  asked   how  contamination  liability  is                                                               
followed  from  one previous  owner  to  the next  if  disclosure                                                               
doesn't happen.                                                                                                                 
JANE  PIERSON,  staff  to Representative  Ramras,  answered  that                                                               
presently  there  is  confusion  as  to when  a  lawsuit  can  be                                                               
undertaken against  another potentially responsible  party. There                                                               
is joint  and several liability,  but the actual time  the action                                                               
can be  taken is what was  clouded in the Aviall  decision, which                                                               
said you can  go against another responsible party,  at such time                                                               
as a suit has been brought by  the state or you have entered into                                                               
an  agreement with  the state  and not  at the  beginning of  the                                                               
cleanup. This bill says from  the time the state determines there                                                               
is an environmental cleanup issue  and that it will be undertaken                                                               
by  a  private  party,  that  party can  then  go  against  other                                                               
potentially  responsible  parties  to  assist  in  the  financial                                                               
aspects of the cleanup.                                                                                                         
3:58:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON  asked if Section  1 under findings and  purpose is                                                               
necessary to the bill.                                                                                                          
MS. PIERSON answered that it was  probably going to be deleted in                                                               
the Judiciary Committee.                                                                                                        
3:59:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BRECK TOSTEVIN,  Department of  Law (DOL),  stated that  the                                                               
Administration,   Department    of   Law   and    Department   of                                                               
Environmental  Conservation supported  HB 269  mostly because  it                                                               
insures that  the voluntary  cleanup system that  is in  place in                                                               
Alaska  goes forward.  It gets  rid of  inefficiencies associated                                                               
with requiring the  state to sue people so they  can collect from                                                               
other responsible parties.                                                                                                      
3:59:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WAGONER  asked if this applies  to the case in  Sterling if                                                               
an additional insurance company is involved.                                                                                    
MR. TOSTEVIN replied  yes and that wouldn't  change the insurance                                                               
GEORGE LYLE,  Justin Rudd  Law Offices,  said he  represented the                                                               
number  of  property  owners who  have  property  with  hazardous                                                               
substances  who  have   received  potentially  responsible  party                                                               
notices  from the  DEC and  who  are now  facing difficulties  in                                                               
trying to get  other potentially responsible parties  to share in                                                               
the  cost  of the  cleanup.  Usually  the  current owner  of  the                                                               
property  gets stuck  with the  cost first.  He supported  HB 269                                                               
explaining that since the Aviall  decision, settlements that were                                                               
pending were withdrawn because the  other party said, "You can no                                                               
longer come  after me until the  state sues you first."  It is an                                                               
unnecessary  burden to  make the  state sue  people in  order for                                                               
them to have  an opportunity to get contribution  from others who                                                               
are responsible for the problem to begin with.                                                                                  
4:02:38 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEDMAN stated  that he  wanted  the severability  issue                                                               
CHAIR WAGONER stated  that HB 269 would be held  for further work                                                               
and adjourned the meeting at 4:03:25 PM.                                                                                      

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