Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/22/1995 01:17 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 102 EXTEND BIG GAME COMMERCIAL SERVICES BOARD REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN, sponsor of the measure, gave the following overview. He served as a member of the Big Game Commercial Services Board for two years. If this board is not extended, guides will be unregulated. Several years ago, a contentious issue was settled by the Supreme Court, called the OWSICHEK decision. That decision eliminated exclusive use areas for guides, which in the past were bought and sold as commodities. That practice was found to be in violation of the common use clause of the Alaska Constitution. Currently, anyone can be assigned to a guide-use area, with a maximum of three guide-use areas for a minimum of five years per area. This allows for some control, and for the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection to monitor guiding activities. Number 390 JOE KLUTSCH, representing the Alaska Professional Hunters Association, reviewed the background of the Big Game Commercial Services Board. In 1988 the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the former guide area system, as implemented, was unconstitutional, and violated provisions of Article VIII. As a result, the Governor appointed a task force to restructure and design a new regulatory apparatus for the guiding industry. In 1988-89 a bill, which defined who could conduct what activities in a commercial capacity, passed the Legislature. By 1991, the task force had completed its work and made recommendations to the Legislature and the Big Game Commercial Service Board, on the structuring of a new regulatory package. The key tenet of the package was the area registration system. At the onset it was somewhat controversial. The guiding industry had anticipated a fairly complicated system for ranking, evaluating and selecting individuals who were able to conduct guiding activities within areas. Because of legal complications and public pressure, that component of the regulatory package was dropped. The task force then adopted a simple and generic area registration system. The justifications were resource based; the idea being to provide a spatial distribution of effort. Guides would be spread out over a wide area, rather than high concentrations of effort in small areas, to reduce the potential for over-harvest of game populations. The idea behind the five year limit for area registrations was to provide a stewardship incentive, and prevent individuals from roving from one area to another, harvesting available game past its sustained yield level and then moving on. The system enhanced enforcement efforts and created a level of accountability. This system allowed for equal access, since new guides were on the same footing as established guides. The registration concept was found to be consistent with Article VIII. MR. KLUTSCH continued. The key question before the committee is what will happen if the board is sunsetted. Eight years of work, since the OWSICHEK ruling, would be lost. Land and resource managers, members of the public, the Legislature, and the guiding profession have put thousands of hours into structuring this system. If the Big Game commercial Services Board is sunsetted, many key game populations will be hunted at, or beyond, maximum sustained yield levels, which will force the Board of Game, after the fact, to close these seasons to non-resident hunting. Non- resident hunting is what the guiding industry depends on. The area system has reduced conflicts with other user groups. The advantage of the registration system is the ability to measure the level of effort before game populations have been harvested at maximum sustained yield level. Number 477 SENATOR HOFFMAN referred to a report by the Legislative Budget and Audit Division, which recommends the Big Game Commercial Services Board be extended to 1997. The Department of Commerce and Economic Development recommended the Board be extended to 1998. He asked why the two agencies recommended different time lengths. SENATOR LEMAN assumed the Legislative Budget and Audit Division's report was issued in November of 1993. Normally it is on a four year cycle; last year it was on a one year cycle to keep it in its sunset stage. Number 490 EDDIE GRASSER, representing the Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC), testified in support of HB 102. He expressed concern that at some point in time, the AOC would like the Legislature to address the Big Game Commercial Services Board's inability to address the increasing numbers of transporters and air taxis delivering clients. Other residents of the state are being restricted by the huge increase in drop-off hunters by air taxis. The air taxi industry is not being regulated by the Board, other than the fact that carriers must obtain a transporter's license and file reports. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if Mr. Grasser knew of any opposition to HB 102. MR. GRASSER replied he did not; he was hoping the Legislature could improve regulation of the industries. SENATOR TAYLOR felt the title was too restrictive to accommodate that request. Number 513 SENATOR TAYLOR moved HB 102 from committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, the motion carried.