Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/23/1998 02:30 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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              
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             

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