Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/13/1996 08:05 AM House STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HJR 51 - SPORT FISHING GUIDE LIMITED ENTRY                                  
 The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs             
 Committee was HJR 51.                                                         
 CHAIR JAMES called on Jeff Logan, Legislative Assistant to                    
 Representative Joe Green.                                                     
 Number 0072                                                                   
 JEFF LOGAN, Legislative Assistant to Representative Joe Green,                
 thanked Chair James for bringing HJR 51 before the House State                
 Affairs Committee.  He said Representative Green was detained due             
 to his flight so he would present the sponsor statement.  He                  
 further said he would limit his testimony to the statewide policy             
 implications of the authority granted in this resolution.  He said            
 the subsequent hearings in the House Special Committee on Fisheries           
 and the House Judiciary Committee would explore the technicalities            
 of law and fish management.  Mr. Logan read the following sponsor             
 statement into the record.                                                    
 "HJR 51 proposes a constitutional amendment to grant the state the            
 authority to limit entry into the sport fish guide profession.  HJR
 51 is needed because the state's authority to impose such limits is           
 not clear at this time.  We believe that without a constitutional             
 amendment, litigation is sure to follow any attempt to limit sport            
 fish guides under current law.                                                
 "While it is anticipated that such limits will be the conclusion of           
 a public process, based on scientific data, HJR 51 does not address           
 the specifics of implementing such restrictions.  HJR 51 simply               
 grants a clear and concise line of authority from the voters to the           
 MR. LOGAN said it was not known if the state needed to limit sport            
 fish guides, but there were strong indications that limits were               
 needed in some fisheries.  He referred the committee members to the           
 bill packet and mentioned the information that indicated the                  
 increase in the number of guides in southeast and southcentral                
 Alaska.  The numbers indicated a problem, he asserted.  He further            
 stated the limitations would be a result of the public process and            
 based on scientific data.  He stated the mechanics for collecting             
 the scientific data were spelled-out in HB 175.                               
 MR. LOGAN further said in 1991 resource managers proposed limiting            
 guides on a popular river in southcentral Alaska.  It was reviewed            
 by the Department of Law and found unconstitutional.  He referred             
 the committee members to a memorandum dated December 4, 1995 from             
 Legal Services which indicated attempts to impose such limits might           
 not be patently unconstitutional, but there was a good chance it              
 would be viewed as constitutionally unfounded by the court.  In               
 conclusion, he stated, HJR 51 was good statewide policy because it            
 granted the resource managers a tool needed, and allowed the state            
 to get ahead of the resource management, and litigation curve.  He            
 urged the passage of HJR 51 to the next committee of referral - The           
 House Special Committee on Fisheries.                                         
 Number 0320                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES stated she was concerned about a binding policy                   
 compared to a local policy.  The Alaska State Constitution                    
 guaranteed equal access to the resources and that the resources               
 should be managed on a sustainable basis.  Therefore, it was wise             
 to limit the sport fish guide entry if that fell under the                    
 constitutional mandate to sustain the resources.  Moreover, a                 
 constitutional amendment might not be necessary to accomplish this,           
 and she questioned the appropriateness of an amendment addressing             
 a specific resource.  She said she did not approve or disapprove,             
 but was concerned about the policy.                                           
 Number 0440                                                                   
 MR. LOGAN replied resource managers felt they needed to limit in              
 some fisheries the number of sport fish guides.  The Department of            
 Law found those proposals were unconstitutional so in order to                
 proceed further, a constitutional amendment was needed according to           
 Legislative Legal Services.                                                   
 Number 0485                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES responded the Alaska State Constitution should be the             
 guidepost for all subsequent statute changes as it was broad based            
 and fair towards sharing and maintaining the resources.  Therefore,           
 if previous proposals were found unconstitutional, there was a                
 reason.  She stated she did not want to "mini manage" the state               
 through constitutional amendments.                                            
 Number 0536                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER stated he was concerned about the                       
 constitutional specificity of sport fish guide.  He wondered if               
 there would be a constitutional amendment for brown bear guides               
 next year, for example.  He further wondered if there was a need to           
 limit any of these functions and suggested crafting an amendment              
 that would allow the flexibility needed.                                      
 Number 0620                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON wondered, if HB 175, which established the            
 licensing system, should be in place before HJR 51 was moved                  
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Valdez, Mark Buchner.                                                         
 Number 0672                                                                   
 MARK BUCHNER said it was a little too early to try to limit sport             
 guides.  He said there might be some problems in specific areas,              
 such as the Kenai River, but there were so many places in the state           
 that were so wide open that any form of legislation would cut a lot           
 of people off.  He said he would be present at all the future                 
 teleconferences and follow the progress of HJR 51.                            
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Valdez, Joe Kilian.                                                           
 Number 0723                                                                   
 JOE KILIAN said there might be areas of the state that needed                 
 limitations, but there were areas that would be hurt by a limit.              
 He cited in Valdez at times there were not enough charters to                 
 service the tourists.  He stated once a limit was imposed, it                 
 affected the community as well.  He stated HJR 51 was premature.              
 He also said he would follow the progress of the resolution and               
 would be present at future teleconferences.                                   
 CHAIR JAMES reminded the witnesses that the focus of the issue                
 today was on the philosophy of the issue as an amendment to the               
 Alaska State Constitution, and not the specifics.                             
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Kenai,           
 Mel Erickson.                                                                 
 Number 0840                                                                   
 MEL ERICKSON, Vice President, Kenai River Guide Association, and a            
 member of the Deep Creek Charter Association, suggested area                  
 specific limitations.  He cited there were open areas in commercial           
 fishing.  He further stated guides would probably increase in 1996            
 due to the Coast Guard easing-up on the six passenger license.                
 CHAIR JAMES reminded Mr. Erickson the issue today was the                     
 appropriateness of a constitutional amendment and not the specifics           
 of the fishing area.                                                          
 MR. ERICKSON replied he did not know that much about the Alaska               
 State Constitution.  He said he was all for it if it took a                   
 constitutional amendment.  He stated he did not care how it                   
 happened as long as there were some regulations.  It was getting              
 way out of control and there was a resource problem.  He cited                
 commercial fishing was limited, the upper Kenai River was limited,            
 and he wondered why the sport fish guides were by passed.  He said,           
 just figure out a way to do it even if it took a constitutional               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Kenai,           
 Joe Hanes.                                                                    
 Number 0973                                                                   
 JOE HANES, President, Kenai River Guide Association, said a limit             
 was needed one way or the other.  He stated everybody wanted it to            
 happen and cited the commercial fishermen, guides, and the board of           
 fish wanted a limit.  He said the precedence had been set in the              
 commercial and big game industry, and there was limited entry in              
 federal waters.  He asserted HJR 51 gave the local resource                   
 managers the latitude to manage the fishery.                                  
 Number 1040                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN replied, to clarify the record, there was no              
 precedence for limited entry in any big game guide.  He said there            
 was a use area and it was unrestricted.  The only constitutional              
 precedent was for commercial fisheries and limited entry.                     
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Ketchikan, Donald Westlund.                                                   
 Number 1066                                                                   
 DONALD WESTLUND asked the committee members how HJR 51 would be               
 justified.  He stated the state would loose money by limiting the             
 sales of sport fish licenses.  He said some people wanted this and            
 some did not.  He cited he worked with Senator Robin Taylor for a             
 couple of years on this issue and said it would not pass the state            
 attorney.  He reiterated and wondered again how HJR 51 would be               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Fairbanks, Dennis Petre.                                                      
 Number 1147                                                                   
 DENNIS PETRE said he agreed with a constitutional amendment, but              
 only for areas that were needed.  He said the constitution as                 
 written was behind the times and needed to be updated.                        
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Sitka,           
 Kent F. Hall.                                                                 
 Number 1183                                                                   
 KENT F. HALL said a constitutional amendment was too drastic of a             
 means.  He suggested a moratorium process.  He reiterated a                   
 constitutional amendment was too drastic.                                     
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness in Juneau, Paul Johnson.               
 Number 1221                                                                   
 PAUL JOHNSON said the common use clause came into effect to get rid           
 of fish traps.  It was the push behind statehood, he said, to take            
 the fish and give to the common property.  He said flexibility was            
 needed for good public policy for the residents.  He said the                 
 residents, the people that owned the resources in the state would             
 be the losers.  He said it was a commercial activity and as public            
 policy the sacred clause would need to be dealt with.  He said the            
 pie was not big enough to fit everybody, and the dollar value                 
 needed to be protected.  A moratorium would not fly because it was            
 not constitutional.  He said an amendment was a clear cut avenue              
 and gave the opportunity to protect the areas needed.  The                    
 resolution stated "may" and was not a blanket clause.  He further             
 said it needed to be dealt with at some time and every year waited            
 somebody would get hurt, big time.                                            
 Number 1308                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES asked Mr. Johnson if he was satisfied the way limited             
 entry worked for commercial fisheries.                                        
 MR. JOHNSON replied, "no."                                                    
 CHAIR JAMES said it was perpetuated by a constitutional amendment.            
 MR. JOHNSON replied it was perpetuated by a constitutional                    
 amendment, and as a result of the legislative process the permit              
 became sellable instead of an entry through a point system, for               
 example, and that was the down fall of limited entry.                         
 Number 1364                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES wondered if leaving a constitutional amendment open               
 would create the same problems as the others.                                 
 Number 1385                                                                   
 MR. JOHNSON said by the time the resolution went through the public           
 process, it would have many bumps and curves.  He said he was not             
 concerned, this time, but did not have any problem including it in            
 the constitution as a guideline.                                              
 Number 1444                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES said she saw no benefit to catch and release because it           
 violated every reason for the need to go fishing.                             
 Number 1471                                                                   
 MR. JOHNSON said during the constitutional convention, the sole               
 concern was fish traps and registered trap lines.  Today, the issue           
 was sport fish guides.  He stated the law needed to be clear or it            
 would be fought in the courts forever costing big bucks.                      
 Number 1516                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said something needed to be put in place while            
 the resources were available.  His constituents wanted to see some            
 Number 1537                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES said all the resources in the state were vulnerable at            
 this point.  She stated she was not comfortable including a                   
 specific resource limit in the constitution.  She said she would              
 prefer a broader approach to allow statutory changes or policy                
 changes for the Department of Fish and Game.                                  
 Number 1562                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said there was frustration in rural Alaska to             
 protect the resources and the resolution was seen as a vehicle to             
 consider now.                                                                 
 Number 1582                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES compared the resolution to the Second Amendment of the            
 United States Constitution in that a resource could be managed if             
 there was a compelling state interest.  She said there must be a              
 way to work within the existing constitution.                                 
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Fairbanks, Mike Kramer.                                                       
 Number 1605                                                                   
 MIKE KRAMER said the constitution should not be amended unless                
 there was a compelling reason and limited entry for sport fish                
 guide was not the proper subject for a constitutional amendment.              
 He stated HB 175 and HJR 51 went hand-in-hand.  He said there were            
 problems in certain areas, such as the Kenai River, and should be             
 dealt with by granting the Department of Fish and Game more                   
 emergency power.  He further said resource conservation was not the           
 problem, but rather the allocation of the fish into the rivers.               
 Number 1740                                                                   
 MR. LOGAN said he was confident that he had the answers to most, if           
 not all, of the questions raised by the committee members today.              
 He asked when the resolution would be brought up again.                       
 CHAIR JAMES replied, Saturday, February 17, 1996.                             

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