Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/23/1998 02:30 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSSJR 40(RES) - FISHERIES MANAGEMENT FEE CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON announced the first order of business was CS for SJR 40(RES), Relating to the fisheries management fee proposed by President Clinton. CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON called on Robert Pearson, intern for Senator Loren Leman, sponsor of the resolution. Number 022 ROBERT PEARSON, Intern for Senator Loren Leman, Alaska State Legislature, read the following sponsor statement: "Senate Joint Resolution 40 expresses the legislature's opposition to a proposed fisheries management fee included in President Clinton's Fiscal Year 1999 budget. The fee is designed to fund the management and enforcement activities of the National Marine Fisheries Service, under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "The fee would be derived from a tax of up to 1 percent on the ex- vessel value of all fish harvested by commercial fishermen. Because Alaska has the most profitable fisheries in the country, state fishermen would pay the largest share of the $20 million in annual revenues the tax is expected to generate nationwide. "Alaska's fishermen would receive no new benefits or services from the new tax. The new revenues would simply free up the $20 million already budgeted for management and enforcement services and enable these monies to be spent on new spending projects in President Clinton's budget. "Commercial fishermen and seafood processors do not need another tax, especially one that produces no new quantified benefits. In addition to paying all the normal payroll and business taxes, commercial fishermen and seafood processors are burdened with several other taxes and user fees, including a raw fish tax, marine fuel tax, licensing fees, fishery landing tax, salmon enhancement tax, seafood marketing tax, and seafood marketing assessment. "The new tax may also pose a disproportionate burden for fishermen who operate only in state-managed waters extending three miles from shore, and who therefore derive little benefit from NOAA's management services in offshore fisheries. President Clinton's budget does not specify whether the tax would apply to only those fish caught in federally-managed water, or whether it would extend to all fish, regardless of management zone. This critical decision is left to the discretion of the Secretary of Commerce. However, lower-level employees at the National Marine Fisheries Service have expressed the view that all fishermen benefit from the federal government's management of the resource, regardless of the zone in which the fish are harvested. Following this logic, it appears likely the fee would be made to apply to all fish caught in waters around Alaska. "The fish tax would undermine the economic competitiveness of Alaska's seafood industry, which is the largest source of private sector jobs in the state. SJR 40 urges the Governor and Alaska's congressional delegation to work to ensure the tax is not included in the Fiscal Year 1999 federal budget." Number 092 REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON declared a conflict of interest. He tries to make a living fishing, and tries to make all of it very close to shore in less than six to seven feet of water. Senator Leman is right on the mark. REPRESENTATIVE RAMONA BARNES objected. CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON announced the arrival of Representative Reggie Joule. Number 100 CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON stated that he strongly supports the resolution. It is a disproportionate tax from the federal government with little or no benefit back to Alaskans. "Just because we may be way up in the north, but we're not dumb," he declared. REPRESENTATIVE BARNES made a motion and asked unanimous consent to move CS for SJR 40(RES) out of the committee with individual recommendations and the attached zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSSJR 40(RES) moved out of the House Resources Standing Committee.