Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/07/1994 08:15 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  HB 343 - Resident Sport & Hunting Licenses                                   
                                                                               
  Number 163                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE TERRY MARTIN, PRIME SPONSOR HB 343, stated HB
  343 is a common sense bill which attempts to lower                           
  administrative costs of issuing licenses every year and make                 
  it more convenient to the residents by offering the option                   
  of buying a one, two or three year license for sport                         
  fishing, hunting or trapping.  He said there is also an                      
  attempt to use a different type of paper for the licenses                    
  themselves.   He noted that there were 176,000 fishing                       
  licenses issued last year and 182,000 issued the year before                 
  involving revenues of $6.6 million.  Hunting licenses                        
  brought in revenue of $5.2 million.  He stated there is a                    
  lot of paper work involved each year and this bill would                     
  decrease the load on ADF&G.                                                  
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN explained there is a $5 incentive each                 
  year; if a person wants to advance their license for three                   
  years, they will save $5 each year.  He felt multiple year                   
  licenses will save ADF&G a lot of work and money.  He said                   
  ADF&G feels there will be many people who will get multi-                    
  year licenses and go out of state, be a nonresident and come                 
  back to the state.  He commented long time residents and                     
  property owners are known and he felt it will not be a                       
  problem.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 244                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE CARNEY stated on page 3, line 21 the bill                     
  talks about an annual free license for disabled veterans.                    
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN responded he believes it was an                        
  oversight as there is no reason why a free license cannot                    
  also be a multi-year license.                                                
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE CARNEY felt if the intent of the bill is to                   
  make it simpler for people, the free license does not                        
  accomplish that.                                                             
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN recommended the committee make that                    
  change.                                                                      
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVID FINKELSTEIN asked if Representative                     
  Martin was suggesting multi-year licenses will only be                       
  available to people who have lived in the state 10-15 years                  
  or own property.                                                             
                                                                               
  Number 261                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN replied he was not sure what to                        
  suggest.  He knows people who go fishing every year and he                   
  did not know what criteria should be used to prove they are                  
  not going to go out of state, become a nonresident and sneak                 
  back in to save $5.                                                          
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN asked if there was any                            
  relationship between the criteria set in HB 343 or existing                  
  law.  He said he did not recall owning property as being a                   
  significant factor in the current regulation.                                
                                                                               
  Number 280                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN replied it is not.  He said he was                     
  just trying to think of ideas to help solve the problem of                   
  people cheating and misusing their multi-year licenses,                      
  which ADF&G feels is an important issue.                                     
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON stated sections eight and nine address                 
  nonresidents.  He said an annual license as opposed to a                     
  multi-year license in those sections is what should be kept                  
  in regulation.  The only difference is that nondisabled                      
  people get the license at the annual fee and at half of the                  
  nonresident game fee, but if a person is disabled 50 percent                 
  or is in the Alaska Territorial Guard, they get an annual                    
  license free.                                                                
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN said he was not anxious to change                      
  military licenses.                                                           
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN commented the sponsor summary                     
  says "HB 343 would allow military personnel, and their                       
  dependents, who are permanently stationed in the state but                   
  do not qualify as a "resident", to obtain special annual                     
  nonresident military small game and sport fishing licenses                   
  at the same rate as the annual rate of a resident license."                  
  He asked how that relates to section eight.                                  
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN replied section eight would still                      
  require an annual license.  He said it is like automobile                    
  tags; while nonresident military members are in the state of                 
  Alaska, they get a special fee rather than a nonresident                     
  fee.                                                                         
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said it seems that AS                             
  16.05.340(d) says that nonresident military get their tags                   
  at one-half of the nonresident rate but in the sponsor                       
  summary, it says the nonresident military get it at the same                 
  fee as a resident.                                                           
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN replied they get a special discount.                   
                                                                               
  Number 345                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said under section eight, it states                    
  "the annual special nonresident military small game and                      
  sport fishing at the annual rate" and then says "big                         
  game..." issued at one-half of the nonresident rate.  He                     
  said the difference is that one is small game and fishing                    
  and the other is big game.  He explained what HB 343 does is                 
  give nonresident military small game and fishing licenses at                 
  the annual rate but it requires one-half of the nonresident                  
  rate for big game licenses.                                                  
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said it appears in section eight,                 
  there are no substantive changes made in the law.                            
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES felt if the sponsor summary was                        
  amended to read "it would also continue to allow..."                         
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said HB 343 is being described to                 
  accomplish two things that he does not think it actually                     
  does.                                                                        
                                                                               
  Number 383                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES felt the words "annual" has                   
  to be put in section eight because they get a special                        
  nonresident military license at the rate for the residential                 
  license, which then could entitle them to an annual,                         
  biennial, or triennial license.                                              
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN agreed but said the sponsor                       
  summary has two sentences in it; the first is correct and                    
  the second sentence does not have anything to do with the                    
  bill.                                                                        
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE ELDON MULDER remarked he liked the idea of                    
  multiple year licenses and asked Representative Martin if he                 
  would consider just doubling the fee on a biennial license                   
  and tripling the fee on a triennial license.                                 
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN said many people rely on licenses not                  
  just for the fun of sport but for food on the table.  He                     
  said if they can pay the fee ahead of time for a two year or                 
  three year license, they are given an incentive of saving $5                 
  each year.  He added that the idea is to also decrease the                   
  demand on government.                                                        
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER asked what it costs to replace a lost                  
  license.                                                                     
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN replied it costs five dollars.                         
                                                                               
  Number 450                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN observed  when reviewing the                        
  initial year, the second year, and the third year of                         
  proposed resident sport fishing license fees, there is a $5                  
  savings for the second year and a $10 savings for the third                  
  year but hunting goes from $5 to $15.  He asked why there is                 
  a disproportionate jump in hunting licenses.                                 
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN replied $5 is still saved per year.                    
  He said, referring to section two, lines 13 and 14, a two                    
  year license would be $50 and HB 343 makes it $45.                           
                                                                               
  Number 475                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated that was not the issue.  He said                 
  there is a $5 savings per charge or a combined charge                        
  savings of $10, but it is the following year he was                          
  referring to where fishing goes down five more dollars and                   
  hunting goes down $10.  He noted that if a person was to buy                 
  individual licenses, there would be a $10 break on a three                   
  year fishing license but a $15 break on a three year hunting                 
  license.  Representative Green felt to make it consistent                    
  the hunting license the third year should be $65 instead of                  
  $60.                                                                         
                                                                               
  Number 515                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said he has been buying hunting and                     
  fishing licenses for over thirty years and he has never lost                 
  his license, thrown it in the river, or had it fall apart.                   
  He suggested people put their licenses in zip lock bags.  He                 
  noted that the bill is attempting to save money, yet is                      
  proposing two new free licenses.  Representative Bunde                       
  suggested on page two, line 20, delete those free licenses                   
  and not add any new free licenses.                                           
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN said what Representative Bunde was                     
  referring to is current law and those people go through an                   
  extra step to prove their income level to qualify.                           
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JAMES expressed her support of multiple year                  
  licenses as they do reduce administrative expenses.  She                     
  said she is not sure it is necessary to give people an                       
  incentive to get multi-year licenses but suspected if there                  
  is not an incentive, people probably will not do so.  She                    
  did not think the state's license fees are excessive and she                 
  would not have any problem raising the fees.  She said there                 
  is a need for a more durable license such as a laminated                     
  license.                                                                     
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES commented that the so-called free                      
  licenses are not new, they are in existing statutes.                         
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON noted that two years ago, the state                    
  went through a massive fee increase in licenses.  Many of                    
  the current fees were adopted because Alaska is in direct                    
  competition with Canada.                                                     
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER clarified that Representative Martin                   
  would be willing to go with rates of annual-$15; biennial-                   
  $30; and triennial-$45.                                                      
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN replied that was fine.                                 
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE GREEN felt laminating licenses would be a                     
  good idea.                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE CARNEY expressed concern that what is being                   
  discussed is getting complicated and felt if the same fee is                 
  going to be charged every year, people will not take                         
  advantage of it.  He said the only incentive to get a three                  
  year license is money saved.                                                 
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS advised if licenses were to be laminated,                  
  each store would have to have a laminating machine and it                    
  would get very costly.                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 689                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES felt if the committee is going to make                 
  fees consistent, page 2, lines 6 and 16 should be modified.                  
  The triennial licenses should be amended from $95 to $100.                   
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-10, SIDE B                                                           
                                                                               
  GERON BRUCE, DEPARTMENT OF FISH & GAME, stated there are                     
  other reasons why annual renewal of licenses is important.                   
  In order to get the federal money that both the Wildlife                     
  Conservation Division and the Sport Fish Division receive                    
  annually, ADF&G has to annually certify to the federal                       
  government, the sales of sport hunting and fishing licenses                  
  which Alaska issues.  He said ADF&G could still certify the                  
  sales if the state went to a biennial or triennial system                    
  but it would be complicated.  Instead of simplifying the                     
  process and reducing administrative work, it will make it                    
  more complicated.                                                            
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE pointed out that in some fisheries and hunts where                 
  there is a seasonal bag limit, people are required to record                 
  harvests on the back of their licenses.  This will require a                 
  larger stock of paper to enable a person to record two or                    
  three years of harvest.  He reminded committee members that                  
  it is vendors who issue the licenses, not ADF&G.  When a                     
  laminated license is considered, the vendors will be                         
  affected by the change.                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 040                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE stated that ADF&G does respect and concur with                     
  Representative Martin's intention to improve the convenience                 
  for the public.  However, he felt there might be better ways                 
  in which that could be accomplished including the purchase                   
  of licenses through the mail.  He noted there are a number                   
  of subtle complexities in HB 343 which need to be                            
  considered.  The fiscal impact on ADF&G will be significant.                 
  He said ADF&G is trying to get as many dollars as possible                   
  out in the field to manage resources and provide the maximum                 
  opportunities to harvest them.                                               
                                                                               
  Number 067                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES asked if ADF&G will lose federal                       
  revenue because of the three year cycle or because of the                    
  actual fee levels.                                                           
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE replied he did not say they would lose funding,                    
  but rather to receive funding, ADF&G is required to submit                   
  certain reports certifying the sale of licenses and what is                  
  done with the money received from the licenses.  It is a                     
  very complicated process and the administrative difficulty                   
  will be increased by having a biennial and triennial license                 
  system rather than an annual process.                                        
                                                                               
  Number 083                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said he can understand there will be a                 
  disruption in the transition period, where in one year there                 
  will be an increase in revenues and a corresponding decline                  
  in the subsequent two or three years, but felt it will                       
  average out in the long run to be the same amount of annual                  
  revenue to be reported.  He asked if most licenses require a                 
  report on the back of the license.                                           
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE responded the reporting on the reverse of the                      
  license verifies a person is in compliance with seasonal                     
  limits.  It is not something used in ADF&G's harvest                         
  monitoring, but rather is an enforcement tool in places                      
  where there is a seasonal bag limit.                                         
                                                                               
  Number 105                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE CARNEY inquired the amount of federal money                   
  received by the state.                                                       
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE explained the amount is determined from a formula                  
  based on the number of licenses sold and the acreage of the                  
  state.  He did not know the exact amount but estimated ADF&G                 
  receives several million dollars annually from the federal                   
  government for sport fish and wildlife conservation                          
  programs.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 120                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE CARNEY felt if the state went to a multiple                   
  year licensing process, ADF&G will probably have more                        
  licenses issued.  He asked if the only reason harvests are                   
  recorded, is so an enforcement officer can stop someone in                   
  the field and check to see if that person has recorded the                   
  correct amounts.  He wondered how often enforcement officers                 
  arrest people because they have not put the right amount on                  
  the back of their license.                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE answered it does work on the honor system.  He                     
  said there is a risk in that if someone catches something                    
  and does not record it and is questioned by an officer, that                 
  person is clearly in violation and can be arrested.                          
                                                                               
  Number 146                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JAMES felt there will be no differences in                    
  reporting to the federal government.  She agreed there may                   
  be people who buy multi-year licenses and then leave the                     
  state, resulting in credit for them buying a license the                     
  following year when they are not really here, possibly                       
  giving the state more money from the federal government.                     
  She felt the problems discussed in regard to paper quality                   
  and the requirement for recording harvests could be designed                 
  into a new form.  She stated she has seen lots of licenses                   
  on different kinds of material which are more durable than                   
  what is used currently.  Representative James asked if there                 
  will be administrative relief if the state goes to a                         
  multiple year licensing process.                                             
                                                                               
  Number 175                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE replied the primary administrative savings                         
  incurred will involve ADF&G not having to pay vendors for                    
  selling licenses on an annual basis, but rather paying just                  
  one fee.  There will also be less data entry costs, although                 
  those costs are minimal.  He said instead of having one                      
  resident license, the form will need to accommodate three                    
  different kinds of licenses or will need to have separate                    
  stock.  A mechanism will also be needed to ensure vendors                    
  report and get an accurate account of when they sell a one                   
  year license compared to a two year or three year license.                   
  If all that is done on one form, accurate accounting becomes                 
  particularly important.  ADF&G likes having a multiple stock                 
  as it makes accounting easier.  Mr. Bruce summarized that                    
  ADF&G does not see significant administrative savings and                    
  said the main issue is increased convenience for the public.                 
  He also pointed out that the fiscal note does include an                     
  estimate for having a different kind of stock paper which                    
  would result in additional costs.                                            
                                                                               
  Number 228                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said laminated licenses had been                        
  discussed and asked if those types of licenses are used, how                 
  will the required stamps be affixed to the back of licenses.                 
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE replied those are the kinds of problems associated                 
  with a laminated license.  A different stock paper might be                  
  a more workable solution.  He pointed out even though                        
  licenses might be issued on a two or three year basis, there                 
  is still a need to get the stamps and tags required each                     
  year and questioned whether multi-year licenses are a real                   
  convenience or a perceived convenience.  He felt there may                   
  be other ways to accomplish the convenience goal, such as                    
  licensing through the mail.                                                  
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE stated in sections eight and nine,                      
  there is one category of free licenses and another category                  
  of reduced fees licenses and wondered what the fiscal impact                 
  will be.                                                                     
                                                                               
  KEVIN BROOKS, DEPARTMENT OF FISH & GAME, replied there are                   
  statistics available on the number of licenses currently                     
  issued in those classes but he did not have them with him.                   
  He said he will be happy to make them available to the                       
  committee.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 278                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER asked what ADF&G's position would be                   
  if the rates were changed to reflect a two year and three                    
  year rate and there would be no fiscal impact.                               
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE responded ADF&G's single largest concern is the                    
  fiscal impact.                                                               
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER questioned what the vendors are paid                   
  to issue licenses.                                                           
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE answered vendors get ten percent, plus an                          
  additional dollar of compensation for each tag sold.                         
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER asked if overall costs could be                        
  reduced if there is a standard fee for vendors.  He also                     
  commented he did not see how there could be an increase in                   
  violations with HB 343.                                                      
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE felt it is a valid position.  There have been                      
  problems confirming residency and having individuals apply                   
  for resident licenses when they do not qualify.  He said                     
  there is a significant dollar difference between resident                    
  and nonresident big game hunting licenses.                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER asked what is required to apply for                    
  federal funds.                                                               
                                                                               
  Number 335                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE responded he does not perform the certification                    
  process himself but he will be happy to get one of the staff                 
  members familiar with the process and provide a written                      
  briefing or testify before the committee.                                    
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN asked if ADF&G has the power to                   
  require a certain number of years residency or people to be                  
  property owners to qualify for multi-year licenses.  He                      
  questioned what the current residency requirement is for a                   
  resident license.                                                            
                                                                               
  Number 360                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE stated the current residency requirement for                       
  licenses is one year.  He asked committee members to                         
  remember that licenses are issued by vendors and no proof of                 
  residency is required.  If a proof of residency is to be                     
  required, vendors will have to enforce the requirement which                 
  could be inconvenient and complicated.                                       
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN clarified ADF&G does not have the                 
  power under current regulation to require higher levels of                   
  proof such as being a property owner or a 15 year resident.                  
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE replied ADF&G does not have that power.                            
                                                                               
  Number 395                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON referred to AS 16.05.940 which is the                  
  definition of residency and stated it goes well beyond just                  
  12 consecutive months voting residence in the state.                         
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE CARNEY wondered if the state receives federal                 
  funds on the free senior licenses which are currently issued                 
  in the state.                                                                
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE said he could not answer the question.                             
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE CARNEY asked if there is a relationship                       
  between what the state charges for licenses and the amount                   
  of federal money received.                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. BRUCE replied the federal formula is not based on the                    
  cost of the licenses the state sells, rather it is based on                  
  the number of licenses and the physical geographical size of                 
  the state.                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE CARNEY remarked if the state is not                           
  collecting federal money for senior licenses because the                     
  state is not charging for them, he felt the state should                     
  charge a minimal amount so that federal money can be                         
  collected.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 430                                                                   
                                                                               
  BILL VALENTINE, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE                      
  PROTECTION, stated the division's position on HB 343 is                      
  neutral.  He said their concerns relate to residency and the                 
  ability to detect violations.  He pointed out the division's                 
  real concern relating to residency is in the big game arena,                 
  not in the sport fishery.  Once a person becomes a resident                  
  as described in the statute quoted by Representative Hudson,                 
  he can leave the state with two years of free big game                       
  hunting privileges.  Tags in the big game arena for                          
  nonresidents are very expensive and some require the hiring                  
  of a guide.  He stressed the division's ability to detect                    
  violations will not be good and are not good currently.  He                  
  described current techniques used.                                           
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JAMES observed that when buying licenses in                   
  other states, there is a requirement for proof of residence.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN asked what the most valuable                      
  benefit a person can get by leaving the state and trying to                  
  retain resident status.                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 535                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. VALENTINE replied there are three species a nonresident                  
  needs a guide for:  sheep, brown bear, musk oxen and in some                 
  areas, goat.  A resident does not need a guide for any                       
  species and does not have to pay a tag fee which can be                      
  quite expensive.                                                             
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON suggested that resident licenses be                    
  issued through the permanent fund application which could                    
  save much cost and effort.                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. VALENTINE agreed, but added that the residency                           
  requirements for the permanent fund are much more stringent                  
  under the permanent fund regulations than they are for                       
  hunting and fishing.                                                         
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON felt there would be an even stronger                   
  indicia of residency.                                                        
                                                                               
  MR. VALENTINE stated one of the division's proposed                          
  amendments to HB 343 was that licenses be tied to the                        
  permanent fund application.                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 576                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS remarked there are many unanswered                         
  questions on HB 343 and suggested a subcommittee be                          
  established to work on the questions.  VICE CHAIRMAN HUDSON,                 
  REPRESENTATIVE CARNEY and REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES volunteered                  
  to work on the bill.                                                         
                                                                               
  ANNOUNCEMENTS                                                                
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS announced the committee will meet                          
  Wednesday, February 9 at 8:15 a.m. to take up HB 33 relating                 
  to mining locations on state selected land, and HJR 50                       
  relating to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council                   
  Comprehensive Rationalization Plan.                                          
                                                                               
  ADJOURNMENT                                                                  
                                                                               
  There being no further business to come before the House                     
  Resources Committee, Chairman Williams adjourned the meeting                 
  at 9:40 a.m.                                                                 

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