Legislature(1999 - 2000)

05/14/1999 01:27 PM House RES

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

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