Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

02/06/2006 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        February 6, 2006                                                                                        
                           3:32 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Thomas Wagoner, Chair                                                                                                   
Senator Ralph Seekins, Vice Chair                                                                                               
Senator Ben Stevens                                                                                                             
Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                                              
Senator Bert Stedman                                                                                                            
Senator Kim Elton                                                                                                               
Senator Albert Kookesh                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 166                                                                                                             
"An  Act  relating  to  an   annual  wildlife  conservation  tag;                                                               
relating  to  bond requirements  for  vendors  of fish  and  game                                                               
licenses,  permits,  and tags;  and  providing  for an  effective                                                               
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 37(FIN) am                                                                                                
"An Act relating to voluntary land trades and purchases to                                                                      
enhance public access to fishing streams."                                                                                      
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 166                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: WILDLIFE CONSERVATION TAG                                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) BUNDE                                                                                                    
04/08/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/08/05       (S)       RES, FIN                                                                                               
01/30/06       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
01/30/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
01/30/06       (S)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
02/06/06       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: HB  37                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PUBLIC ACCESS TO FISHING STREAMS                                                                                   
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) GARA                                                                                              
01/10/05       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 12/30/04                                                                              
01/10/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/10/05       (H)       FSH, RES                                                                                               
03/21/05       (H)       FSH AT 8:30 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
03/21/05       (H)       -- Meeting Canceled --                                                                                 
03/23/05       (H)       FSH AT 8:30 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
03/23/05       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/23/05       (H)       MINUTE(FSH)                                                                                            
04/15/05       (H)       FSH AT 8:30 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
04/15/05       (H)       Moved CSHB  37(FSH) Out of Committee                                                                   
04/15/05       (H)       MINUTE(FSH)                                                                                            
04/18/05       (H)       FSH RPT CS(FSH) NT 2DP 1DNP 2NR                                                                        
04/18/05       (H)       DP: ELKINS, THOMAS;                                                                                    
04/18/05       (H)       DNP: SALMON;                                                                                           
04/18/05       (H)       NR: KAPSNER, LEDOUX                                                                                    
04/18/05       (H)       FIN REFERRAL ADDED AFTER RES                                                                           
04/22/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
04/22/05       (H)       Moved CSHB  37(RES) Out of Committee                                                                   
04/22/05       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
04/25/05       (H)       RES RPT CS(RES) NT 2DP 3NR                                                                             
04/25/05       (H)       DP: ELKINS, CRAWFORD;                                                                                  
04/25/05       (H)       NR: OLSON, SAMUELS, LEDOUX                                                                             
05/07/05       (H)       FIN AT 2:00 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519                                                                       
05/07/05       (H)       Moved CSHB  37(FIN) Out of Committee                                                                   
05/07/05       (H)       MINUTE(FIN)                                                                                            
05/08/05       (H)       FIN RPT CS(FIN) NT 3DP 6NR 1AM                                                                         
05/08/05       (H)       DP: CROFT, FOSTER, MOSES;                                                                              
05/08/05       (H)       NR: HAWKER, HOLM, STOLTZE, WEYHRAUCH,                                                                  
                         JOULE, MEYER;                                                                                          
05/08/05       (H)       AM: KELLY                                                                                              
05/09/05       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
05/09/05       (H)       VERSION: CSHB 37(FIN) AM                                                                               
05/10/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
05/10/05       (S)       RES, FIN                                                                                               
02/06/06       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
SARAH GILBERTSON, Special Assistant                                                                                             
Alaska Department of Fish & Game                                                                                                
PO Box 25526                                                                                                                    
Juneau, AK  99802-5226                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 166.                                                                                         
GEORGE REIFENSTEIN, General Manager                                                                                             
Mt. Roberts Tramway                                                                                                             
Juneau AK                                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 166.                                                                                           
DOROTHY WILSON                                                                                                                  
Coastal Helicopters                                                                                                             
Juneau AK                                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 166.                                                                                           
MIKE WINDRID, Director of Operations                                                                                            
Alaska Travel Adventures                                                                                                        
Juneau AK                                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 166.                                                                                           
JEREMY GIESER, Manager                                                                                                          
Gastineau Guiding Company                                                                                                       
Juneau AK                                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 166.                                                                                           
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  THOMAS  WAGONER  called   the  Senate  Resources  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 3:32:46 PM.  Present were Senators                                                             
Seekins, Stedman, Dyson, Elton, Ben Stevens and Chair Wagoner.                                                                  
3:33:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                SB 166-WILDLIFE CONSERVATION TAG                                                                            
CHAIR   THOMAS  WAGONER   announced   SB  166   to   be  up   for                                                               
SARAH GILBERTSON,  Special Assistant,  Alaska Department  of Fish                                                               
and  Game (ADF&G),  said the  department supported  SB 166.   She                                                               
said that SB 166 allows the  department to collect user fees from                                                               
new sector  among both residents  and non-residents of  the state                                                               
who benefit from the ADF&G.                                                                                                     
She said that  revenue generated by this bill  would be deposited                                                               
into the Fish and  Game Fund where it would be  used for fish and                                                               
wildlife management. She said  the department prepared amendments                                                               
that clarify who would be  responsible for buying and selling the                                                               
tags that are proposed in the bill.                                                                                             
3:35:51 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATORS ALBERT KOOKESH and BEN STEVENS arrived.                                                                                
MS. GILBERTSON  noted a drafting error  on page 1 and  went on to                                                               
explain that  a title  change was required  to exempt  the Alaska                                                               
Marine Highway  and the Alaska Railroad  Corporation, concerns of                                                               
Senators  Elton  and  Stedman.   She  explained  that  while  the                                                               
amendment does not explicitly exempt  the Inter Island Ferry, she                                                               
believes that  it addresses the  concerns they had about  how the                                                               
bill would effect it.                                                                                                           
3:36:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. GILBERTSON  said that the  first amendment  corrects language                                                               
in page  1 in Section  6 and  clarifies that the  vendors selling                                                               
these tags would receive a  one-dollar payment for every tag they                                                               
sell. As  drafted, this section's  language affects all  fish and                                                               
game licenses and that was not the intent.                                                                                      
Housekeeping changes were  made by renumbering page 2  to make it                                                               
consistent  with   other  changes.  Another  change   on  page  2                                                               
clarifies that the tag is  purchased annually and that purchasers                                                               
of Alaska  commercial fishing permits, sport  fishing and hunting                                                               
licenses would  be exempt. So  the terms "Alaska" and  "issued by                                                               
the department" were added.                                                                                                     
On  page  5, line  18,  "in  actual  possession" was  deleted  to                                                               
clarify the  people who merely  sell the  tag are not  liable for                                                               
checking a visitor for proof.                                                                                                   
Language  on page  5,  line  19, through  page  6,  line 10,  was                                                               
deleted and new language was  inserted to clarify who is required                                                               
to  purchase  and  sell  the  tags.  This  is  where  the  Alaska                                                               
Railroad,  the  Marine  Highway,  rented  passenger  recreational                                                               
vehicles,  non-stop  flights  listed  in the  Supplement  to  the                                                               
Airmen's Guide published by the FAA  or a business engaged in the                                                               
carriage of persons  by a method of  transportation determined by                                                               
the  commissioner  by  regulation   not  to  have  a  significant                                                               
opportunity for viewing public wildlife are exempted.                                                                           
"Not in  captivity" was  inserted on  page 6,  line 11,  to cover                                                               
concerns  about  visiting  zoos,  fish  hatcheries  and  wildlife                                                               
refuges.  Language   on  lines  12   -  23  that  refer   to  the                                                               
transportation  industry  were  also  deleted in  an  attempt  to                                                               
clarify the  bill. The  effective date  on page  7, line  14, was                                                               
changed from 2006 to 2007.                                                                                                      
3:44:26 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON asked whether people  on flights from Juneau to the                                                               
Taku River would  be exempt from the tag  requirement because the                                                               
service  providers claim  that the  purpose of  the flight  is to                                                               
have a meal at the Taku River Lodge, not to see wildlife.                                                                       
MS. GILBERTSON replied  that many of the  flight seeing providers                                                               
would have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.                                                                             
SENATOR ELTON asked who would make that decision.                                                                               
MS. GILBERTSON replied  that the commissioner of  the ADF&G would                                                               
determine which parties would be exempt from the requirements.                                                                  
3:46:48 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  ELTON  asked  if  the   department  supported  having  a                                                               
representative from  the tourism  industry on  one of  its boards                                                               
given  the likelihood  that  a substantial  part  of the  revenue                                                               
expected from this bill would come from that industry.                                                                          
MS. GILBERTSON replied that she could not answer that question.                                                                 
SENATOR ELTON commented  that in the past,  policy decisions have                                                               
been made  according to  the maxim that  those that  generate tax                                                               
revenue should have some representation in its management.                                                                      
SENATOR DYSON asked  if there are any lands in  Alaska where this                                                               
bill would not apply.                                                                                                           
MS. GILBERTSON  said that it  is the  intent of the  sponsor that                                                               
this bill would apply uniformly throughout the state.                                                                           
3:48:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON  asked if  this fee would  apply to  federal parks,                                                               
Native lands, and federal forests.                                                                                              
MS.  GILBERTSON clarified  that anyone  taking a  commercial tour                                                               
that  offers or  advertises the  opportunity of  viewing wildlife                                                               
would be subject to the requirements of this bill.                                                                              
3:49:28 PM                                                                                                                    
GEORGE REIFENSTEIN,  General Manager,  Mt. Roberts  Tramway, said                                                               
that the passage  of this bill would  create logistical problems,                                                               
increase  labor costs,  and cause  a  loss of  customers for  his                                                               
business.   He said that  he did  not understand how  the passive                                                               
viewing of  wildlife, a non-consumptive activity,  could generate                                                               
management  costs comparable  to the  consumptive activities  for                                                               
which the ADF&G has traditionally required licenses.                                                                            
SENATOR  ELTON said  that he  is  concerned that  this bill  will                                                               
place  the tram  operators  in an  awkward  position in  deciding                                                               
whether  or  not  to  allow  the  continuation  of  their  raptor                                                               
viewing-program. Currently,  people are not charged  and he would                                                               
be disappointed to see such  an opportunity to disappear from one                                                               
of the prime destinations in the state.                                                                                         
3:53:49 PM                                                                                                                    
DOROTHY WILSON said  she owns Coastal Helicopters  and opposed SB                                                               
166. She expressed her concern  that imposing costs upon tourists                                                               
will  negatively  affect  the perception  of  Alaska's  potential                                                               
visitors.  She  added  that  she  is  also  concerned  about  the                                                               
administrative  burden that  the distribution  and collection  of                                                               
tags will impose upon tourist companies.                                                                                        
She  offered  to  sell  tags  in her  gift  shop  that  would  be                                                               
purchased on a  volunteer basis and offered to give  the state 80                                                               
percent of the proceeds for the management of it's wildlife.                                                                    
3:59:15 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE WINDRID,  Director of Operations, Alaska  Travel Adventures,                                                               
opposed SB 166. He said that  wildlife viewing is one of the most                                                               
attractive features  to Alaskan  visitors and  imposing a  tax on                                                               
wildlife  viewing  creates  a  major  disincentive  for  entities                                                               
trying to market this feature.                                                                                                  
4:03:27 PM                                                                                                                    
He said  that a typical visitor  already faces a heavy  burden in                                                               
taxes and  fees imposed  to support  local and  state government.                                                               
He said  that this bill would  increase this burden and  create a                                                               
large additional  administrative cost.  It would be  a logistical                                                               
strain for tourist operators who  must distribute and collect the                                                               
tags.  He  expressed concern  that  administering  these tags  to                                                               
guests  will   diminish  the  quality  of   their  experience  by                                                               
requiring them to fill out more paperwork.                                                                                      
4:07:47 PM                                                                                                                    
JEREMY GIESER,  Manager, Gastineau Guiding Company,  related that                                                               
visitors to Alaska  only have a certain amount of  time to have a                                                               
quality experience. The hardest thing  in the visitor industry in                                                               
Juneau,  specifically,  is  trying   to  give  people  a  quality                                                               
experience when  they only have  five to  eight hours in  town. A                                                               
larger operator has 150 to 250 people  coming off a ship to go on                                                               
a tour  and all  of them  will need to  have their  tags verified                                                               
before they  leave the dock in  a short amount of  time. He asked                                                               
what would happen  if, out on the trail, one  of their guests was                                                               
found without a tag and  who would assume responsibility for that                                                               
guest. Would it be enforced?                                                                                                    
4:12:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE  said that he  received an  email in support  of SB                                                               
166  from  Rick  Riddel,  dean  of  conservative  talk  shows  in                                                               
Anchorage, pointing out  that the tourist industry  has an impact                                                               
on  Alaska's fish  and wildlife.  He also  received a  phone call                                                               
from  an  outdoor writer  from  Minneapolis  who had  written  an                                                               
Associated Press  story on SB 166  saying that he would  be happy                                                               
to pay an extra $5 to have a chance to view Alaskan wildlife.                                                                   
SENATOR BUNDE explained  that the tourist industry  asks for more                                                               
money from the  general fund every year to  support their private                                                               
business  and  now  when  it  has an  opportunity  to  allow  its                                                               
customers, who  impact Alaska's  fish and  wildlife, to  create a                                                               
return to the state, they don't want to.                                                                                        
4:14:31 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN asked how the  system would work, particularly in                                                               
the cruise  ship industry. He  couldn't picture  someone visiting                                                               
Alaska without wanting to look at the wildlife.                                                                                 
SENATOR BUNDE  replied that the transportation  industry would be                                                               
exempt, but if  a business advertises wildlife  viewing, it would                                                               
pay. Only one tag would be purchased per year.                                                                                  
SENATOR SEEKINS  asked what  method he  envisioned being  used to                                                               
demonstrate a tag had been purchased.                                                                                           
SENATOR  BUNDE  replied that  he  envisioned  something like  the                                                               
purchaser wearing a cloisonné pin.                                                                                              
4:18:07 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SEEKINS wondered  what would keep someone  from handing a                                                               
pin with no particular identification  on it to another person to                                                               
use as proof he had paid the  fee and he asked what percentage of                                                               
ADF&G operating funds comes from hunting and fishing licenses.                                                                  
SENATOR BUNDE replied the vast majority.                                                                                        
MS. GILBERTSON  replied that the  department receives  40 percent                                                               
of its funding  from the federal government, 20  percent from the                                                               
general fund, and ADF&G fees bring in 20 to 30 percent.                                                                         
4:19:48 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR AL KOOKESH noted that the  fiscal note was zero and asked                                                               
how that  could be if the  department has to purchase  lapel pins                                                               
or tags.                                                                                                                        
MS.  GILBERTSON replied  that there  is  fiscal note,  but it  is                                                               
manageable and  the program would  bring in  a lot of  money. She                                                               
suggested  that  pins  cost  less  than 25  cents  and  could  be                                                               
collector items.                                                                                                                
SENATOR KOOKESH  reflected that he  hadn't heard people  say they                                                               
were necessarily  opposed to  a fee, but  rather that  there were                                                               
logistical problems  with administering  it for large  numbers of                                                               
SENATOR BUNDE  replied that the  tag would add  $1 per head  to a                                                               
businesses income and he just didn't view that as a problem.                                                                    
CHAIR WAGONER said he would hold the bill until next Monday.                                                                    
4:22:35 PM                                                                                                                    
        CSHB  37(FIN)am-PUBLIC ACCESS TO FISHING STREAMS                                                                    
CHAIR  THOMAS WAGONER  announced CSHB  37(FIN)  am to  be up  for                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  LES GARA,  sponsor of  HB 37,  explained that  it                                                               
creates a process for Alaska  Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G)                                                               
to  identify areas  of  high-use for  fisheries  in streams  that                                                               
might  lose their  public  access in  the  future especially  the                                                               
fisheries located along the road  system and to land-trade or buy                                                               
easements and  other public  access along those  areas. A  lot of                                                               
states have lost  their public access and it's  now too expensive                                                               
for them to get it back.                                                                                                        
4:25:17 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN  said it seemed  like the definition  of "fishing                                                               
waterways" could  be virtually any  waterway with fish in  it and                                                               
asked if that was correct.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GARA replied  that it could be, but  the bill asks                                                               
the  department  to  prioritize those  areas  with  the  greatest                                                               
public fishery  and recreational value. It  asks the commissioner                                                               
to come  up with about two  meander miles of land  statewide that                                                               
it  would, then,  consider ways  to  purchase or  land trade  for                                                               
public  access  to  in  the  future. These  areas  would  not  be                                                               
appealable by members  of the public, so people  wouldn't be able                                                               
to argue about what land should have been identified.                                                                           
4:26:16 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN,  referred to language  on page 3, line  10, that                                                               
says,  "Before February  1 of  each year  the commissioner  shall                                                               
submit a plan to acquire  public access to fishing waterways...."                                                               
It looks like he could  basically blanket a substantial amount of                                                               
private  land  within  the  state   of  Alaska,  particularly  in                                                               
Southeast where, "Virtually every creek has a fish in it."                                                                      
4:27:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  clarified that the commissioner  is supposed                                                               
to prioritize two-miles worth of  the highest-value public access                                                               
areas.  He  said  this  bill  doesn't  use  eminent  domain;  but                                                               
requires voluntary land trades with  landowners or voluntary land                                                               
purchases.  He couldn't  think of  very many  areas in  Southeast                                                               
that  were crying  for  this solution,  but he  knew  of some  in                                                               
Southcentral and the Interior.                                                                                                  
SENATOR  STEDMAN said  the navigable  waters  definition is  far-                                                               
reaching and  asked if two miles  beyond the meander line  of the                                                               
river is the targeted distance.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  reiterated  the   he  is  asking  ADF&G  to                                                               
prioritize  the  most valuable,  in  terms  of needed  sport  and                                                               
subsistence  fishing access,  two miles  of river  that they  can                                                               
find. It could be five different parcels or one long parcel.                                                                    
CHAIR WAGONER  held CSHB  37(FIN) am  until Monday  and adjourned                                                               
the meeting at 4:34:59 PM.                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects