Legislature(1999 - 2000)
05/14/1999 01:27 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 171 - FISHERY DATA; LAND REC'D BY STATE VICE CHAIR MASEK announced that the next item of business would be Senate Bill No. 171 am, "An Act relating to the release of certain records and reports required by the Department of Fish and Game regarding fish, shellfish, or fishery products and reports of fish buyers and processors; relating to the transfer of land to the state; and providing for an effective date." Number 1407 BRETT HUBER, Legislative Assistant to Senator Rick Halford, Alaska State Legislature, came forward on behalf of the sponsor. He explained that SB 171 was introduced at the request of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). It amends AS 16.05.815, the statute governing confidentiality of fishery records and information, to allow the ADF&G to share the records documenting commercial fishery landings, fish buying and processing activities within Alaska. These amendments would allow transfer of this information to the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC), the Alaska Fisheries Information Network (AKFIN), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Mr. Huber noted that representatives from the ADF&G and other agencies were present to answer questions about the specific records transfers and their uses. MR. HUBER pointed out that some members of the public have expressed concern that the bill may impact the "COAR reports" [Commercial Operators Annual Reports, to the Department of Revenue]. However, nothing in the bill deals with that issue, and nothing would change in those reports. In addition, provisions in the bill ensure that state-selected land within the McNeil River Wildlife Refuge would be free of encumbrance or unauthorized use at the time of transfer. MR. HUBER informed members that an amendment on the Senate floor to the final section of the bill added legislative approval of any land transferred to the state that is found to have - or is suspected to have - significant environmental contamination or pollution. Some Bureau of Land Management (BLM) transfers of Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) school sites may have storage tanks or contamination problems, as may some military reservations. The idea is for the legislature to ensure that lands aren't accepted which have an economic encumbrance greater than their value. Number 1539 REPRESENTATIVE JOULE said he recognizes that the title includes the last section of the bill [Section 4]. However, he wonders how that relates to the rest of the bill. MR. HUBER responded that he had talked with the drafter from Legislative Legal Services, asking that same question before the amendment was added on the Senate floor. The drafter feels that the title accurately depicts the contents of the bill. Furthermore, the single-subject rule has been determined to be quite broad in the past, including issues like "water" as a single subject. The drafter believes it is supportable that the single subject is "as pertaining to natural resources." Number 1628 REPRESENTATIVE JOULE asked if anybody from the ADF&G had requested Section 4. MR. HUBER said no. Number 1648 VICE CHAIR MASEK called an at-ease at 1:51 p.m. and called the meeting back to order at 1:52 p.m. Number 1678 GERON BRUCE, Legislative Liaison, Office of the Commissioner, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), came forward. He told members that the ADF&G had taken Section 1 to Senator Halford, who introduced it on the department's behalf. He expressed appreciation for that, noting that he would confine his remarks primarily to that section. MR. BRUCE characterized this as a housekeeping-type bill. He explained that the ADF&G wanted to make sure that they could share data with agencies authorized to use confidential data to develop nonconfidential reports that could be shared with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) and other entities. Two types of financial information here are confidential because they tie back to individual fishers or processors, he said. This bill tightly limits to whom that confidential data can go. MR. BRUCE said in addition to the limitations in statute, confidentiality agreements will be drawn up between ADF&G and the entities that would receive the data, including the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and a project they have called AKFIN; they will combine the confidential data with other confidential data from the federal offshore fisheries, and then produce reports that give a picture of offshore fisheries. Referring to NMFS and NOAA, he said this would authorize them to release confidential data and use it in court actions, without going through the administrative process of getting a court order to do so. He mentioned the staff of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, as well. Number 1820 VICE CHAIR MASEK turned the gavel over to Co-Chair Ogan, who had joined the meeting. MR. BRUCE pointed out that two documents in committee packets add more detail: a memorandum to Earl Krygier of the ADF&G from Stephen White of the Department of Law, who was present that day; and a summary prepared by Mr. Bruce titled, "Need for and Purpose of Amendments to AS 16.05.815." He noted that a representative from AKFIN was present to answer questions about their role. Number 1897 REPRESENTATIVE JOULE alluded to the fact that Sections 1, 2 and 3 address Title 16, whereas Section 4 addresses Title 38; he said he was having a hard time making the connection. He asked if the ADF&G has any concerns at all regarding the last part of the bill. MR. BRUCE replied that he could speak to Sections 2 and 3, but not to Section 4, as he had no knowledge of it beyond what Mr. Huber had stated; he would therefore defer to the Department of Natural Resources regarding that section. He then specified that the ADF&G has no objection to the sponsor's addition of Sections 2 and 3 to the provisions requested by the ADF&G. He also indicated that if the sponsor is comfortable with the title, the ADF&G is comfortable with it, as well. Number 1980 STEPHEN WHITE, Assistant Attorney General, Natural Resources Section, Civil Division (Juneau), Department of Law, came forward, noting that he had worked on Section 1 with the ADF&G. He offered to answer questions but said he had no further comments. Number 2016 REPRESENTATIVE JOULE asked Mr. White about Section 4. MR. WHITE explained that the constitution says every bill should be confined to one subject, but the courts have read that very broadly. Although some legislation has been challenged, the courts have never struck legislation down as containing subjects that aren't somewhat related; if there is any way to connect all the subjects within a bill, the courts have allowed the legislation to proceed. One title, for example, said, "An Act relating to land," and the bill encompassed changes to the Uniform Land Sales Act, dealing with sales of land, as well as to the Alaska Land Act, dealing with disposals of land; the court said those two, because they were related to land, were not so far off under the single-subject rule as to be stricken. Mr. White referred to testimony that the subjects in the bill before the committee generally relate to natural resources and, therefore, have a connecting tie. "Whether it would violate that rule, it's hard to say," he added. "All we know is the courts have never struck down, at this point, any legislation under that constitutional provision." Number 2111 JANE ANGVIK, Director, Division of Land, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), testified via teleconference from Anchorage. She referred to Section 4 and expressing concern about what may be required of the Division of Land in receiving conveyance of the remaining 16 million acres of land that the state has yet to receive from the federal government. She said she understood what Mr. Huber had said about Section 4 but is concerned about the intent. The division doesn't physically go and inspect all the land they receive, Ms. Angvik explained. For example, they didn't go and physically inspect the 90 million acres already received from the federal government, nor do they intend - unless so directed by statute - to inspect the balance of the 16 million acres yet to be received. She added, "We are feverishly working on a fiscal note right now to tell you what that would cost to have us go actually inspect the lands." MS. ANGVIK reported that Department Order 137, adopted in 1994 by then-commissioner Harry Noah, was prepared in anticipation of the final push for acquisition of state lands from the federal government. Department Order 137 says the state can take land with known contamination if the overriding value for which the land was selected exceeds the cleanup cost; a good example is the North Slope. Ms. Angvik added, "In normal real estate practices, if we were to comply with this version of the law, [a] future owner is generally expected to inspect the land to be purchased, donated or conveyed, ... and it would be exceedingly expensive for us to do that." MS. ANGVIK explained that they currently use tools available without going physically on the land, such as historical records showing previous federal mining claims. However, the very reason that the state selected an area may be the cause for the potential contamination, as in the case of mineral areas. They have worked out a system so that formal federal mining claims go immediately through the state to the existing claimant, without a break in the chain in title. Ms. Angvik emphasized that a primary reason for selecting land is its high mineral potential. In those cases, in particular, there has been a mining operation for multiple years, it is highly probable that it is contaminated, and the same operator chooses to become a state mineral claimant. Ms. Angvik told members, "We don't need to reclaim the land, so long ... as they enter into a mining lease with the specific stipulations about their bonding requirements when the mining is all done." MS. ANGVIK pointed out that the state generally doesn't want contaminated parcels. However, there are exceptions, including airports, schools and mining claims, the latter being the high-priority selections that the state is asking the federal government to convey. If the legislature wants oversight on whether the state takes known contaminated sites, Ms. Angvik said the DNR could provide information. "But if we're going to require an evaluation by the federal government, we're going to have to incur the cost of inspecting the land ourselves," she concluded. She offered to work with the bill sponsor to try to achieve his goals, if she understood them correctly, but restated that the DNR doesn't want to incur the prohibitive cost of physically having to go and inspect every piece of land received. She also referred committee members to Department Order 137, to see whether that achieves the goals that Senator Halford had in mind. Number 2386 REPRESENTATIVE JOULE asked about the zero fiscal note for SB 171, dated May 10, 1999, supplied by Ms. Angvik on behalf of the Division of Land. MS. ANGVIK pointed out that the zero fiscal note doesn't reflect the amendment made on the Senate floor, which is Section 4 of SB 171 am. She said she is working on a revised fiscal note in the neighborhood of $700,000 to physically inspect for contaminants the balance of the lands which the state is to receive from the federal government. She offered to talk to the sponsor's representative if she had misunderstood what the bill prescribes or its intention. Number 2446 MR. HUBER responded that Ms. Angvik had raised a legitimate concern. As late as it is in the process, he said he believes the sponsor would be comfortable with removing Section 4. He indicated the desire to work with the Division of Land on this question and perhaps bring back subsequent legislation in the following session that will make it more workable. MS. ANGVIK replied that the division would be pleased to work with Senator Halford on this aspect of land acquisitions. Number 2485 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK made a motion to remove Section 4 and renumber the bill accordingly; she asked unanimous consent. There being no objection, it was so ordered. Number 2542 MS. ANGVIK specified that the Administration has no opposition to the bill. CO-CHAIR OGAN asked if anyone else wished to testify; there was no response. Number 2575 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK made a motion to move SB 171 am, as amended, from committee with the attached fiscal notes; she asked unanimous consent. There being no objection, HCS SB 171(RES) moved from the House Resources Standing Committee. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN called an at-ease at 2:15 p.m. He called the committee back to order at 2:16 p.m.