Legislature(1995 - 1996)
05/05/1995 03:35 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SJR 28 KENAI PENINSULA SUBSISTENCE PROPOSAL SENATOR LEMAN introduced SJR 28 as the final order of business. SENATOR JUDY SALO, prime sponsor of SJR 28, explained the intent of the resolution is to get information to the Federal Subsistence Board, asking them to not adopt the proposed subsistence moose regulations on the Kenai Peninsula and the customary and traditional use determination for certain communities on the peninsula. Senator Salo cautioned that it is likely there will be problems this fall because of some communities being determined rural and even more rural communities next to them being determined non- rural. Senator Salo said it is her intention to deal with the current situation on the Kenai Peninsula by getting additional information to the board to ask them to stay the decision, and she will also be testifying to the Federal Subsistence Board and has offered written testimony as well. Number 190 SENATOR TAYLOR moved to pass SJR 28 out of committee with individual recommendations and then withdrew his motion so that witnesses could testify. ROBERT BOSWORTH, Director, Division of Subsistence, Department of Fish & Game, stated he was present to respond to questions. SENATOR LEMAN asked if the department has had any comments from the communities of Cooper Landing, Ninilchik and Hope, and if there is strong community support in opposition to the proposed federal regulations. ROBERT BOSWORTH answered that the department has not had any communication from those areas, and he suggested they may be commenting directly to the Federal Subsistence Board. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the department has had experience working with the Federal Subsistence Board. ROBERT BOSWORTH related the department has two department liaisons to the board, one from the wildlife conservation division and one from the subsistence division. SENATOR TAYLOR commented that he applauds the sponsor for her good faith in attempting to bring a resolution to the attention of a Congress that gave us the Federal Subsistence Board, but he doubts seriously that anyone will pay any attention to us back there. SENATOR SALO noted that her office has a petition with 1,800 signatures that were gathered on the peninsula in just over a week's time after the regulations were promulgated. She pointed out that many of the signatures were from communities that would get the subsistence advantage. Number 275 SENATOR LEMAN asked if under the proposed regulations, the people living in Cooper Landing, Ninilchik and Hope will have the opportunity to hunt anywhere or only in the game management unit they are in. ROBERT BOSWORTH answered that as he understands the Regional Council proposal that led to the customary and traditional findings, the findings were specific to a community, a game management unit and a species. For example, residents of Ninilchik were found to have customary and traditional use of moose within a particular game management unit that was adjacent to Ninilchik. Number 305 SENATOR LEMAN stated the committee would take testimony from witnesses waiting to testify over the teleconference network. GARY OSKOLKOFF, a member of the Ninilchik Traditional Council, as well as a member of the Federal Subsistence Advisory Council for Southcentral Alaska, testified from Ninilchik. Mr. Oskolkoff stated that as the resolution is proposed, he thinks it is going to be very difficult for the Federal Subsistence Board to follow the suggestion of delaying the implementation, simply because they are not allowed to under the law without closing down all of the federal lands on the Kenai Peninsula. If they have to go against the advisory council's opinion or decision that there is customary and traditional use and then there is a season there, they can only deny that for a couple of basic reasons. One is that it is going to be a detriment to the resource, which would lead to a complete lockup and then no one would be participating in that hunt, whether they were subsistence or not. Mr. Oskolkoff said in the long run, there is an imperfect system, that being the federal system. There is not a subsistence system in the state right now and, therefore, we have to go with the imperfect system. Mr. Oskolkoff said the resolution makes references to notification and the citizens not having adequate notice to testify to the advisory council before this proposal was made, but there were several meetings over a two-year period that had more than adequate notice. Mr. Oskolkoff doesn't believe that under current state law there is going to be the ability for the state to resume any form of subsistence management, especially with the deadlock that exists between some rural and urban legislators, as well as some of the constituents groups that were formed on one side or the other of the issue. He suggested there is a need to take a good look at what the real law is, how it really affects people, and how those people on the advisory council came up with their final proposal. Number 376 SENATOR TAYLOR asked Mr. Oskolkoff to explain how a state system could be imposed and how that state system could avoid the implementation of the federal system. GARY OSKOLKOFF said his understanding is that it would take a change in the Alaska Constitution to allow for either a rural preference or some other type of preference that most of the people of the state of Alaska would find a consensus on that would meet some of the criteria in Title 8, ANILCA. SENATOR TAYLOR stated that Attorney General Botelho has testified on three different occasions that it doesn't matter what changes are made to the Constitution, the state does not have the ability to change any federal law with our state laws or our state constitution; Title 8, ANILCA, must be changed. He asked Mr. Oskolkoff what legal authority he was basing his statement on that it would take a change in the Constitution. GARY OSKOLKOFF said he was relying on the word passed down to him from the Assistant Attorney General of the United States through a memorandum. He added he is glad to listen to all opinions on how the law could or could not be changed in order to allow for this to happen. SENATOR TAYLOR said whenever he asks the question of whether the federal law is supreme over state law and over state constitution, the answer is always yes and that it can only be changed by the Federal Congress. He said if, in fact, Mr. Oskolkoff has anybody who is advising him differently, he would like to see a copy of that legal advice because it will be of monumental impact if we can find legal authority that says a state can somehow change federal law. GARY OSKOLKOFF responded that he is asserting that if there can be a consensus reached by a majority of Alaskans and a majority of the interest groups, Alaska's congressional delegation will be able to take that to Congress and ask Congress to change the law to allow for that to happen. That is his preface for saying there could be a change in federal law, although he is not advocating that at this particular time because he does not think the parties are close enough together on their discussions, nor does he think enough discussions are actually taking place between the interest groups to allow for that. Number 525 LES PALMER, a resident of Sterling, stated his support for SJR 28 and urged the committee's support as well. He said it is absurd and outrageous that thousands of Kenai Peninsula residents might not be able to hunt or fish in their own backyard because a few think they deserve a special subsistence preference. Mr. Palmer said the resolution addresses a problem that began in 1990 when the feds designated seven Kenai Peninsula communities rural. He opposed that decision in writing and he predicted that making the modern highway-connected communities of the peninsula eligible for subsistence preference would divide race against race, neighbor against neighbor and it would make a mockery of the whole idea of subsistence. Number 555 DALE BONDURANT of Soldotna stated Alaska's Constitution is probably the best constitution of any in the United States as far as equal rights to use our fish and game and here we are trying to circumvent that constitution and bow over to ANILCA. He said we are going to have this crammed down our throats until the public stands up and decides that they are not going to accept it. He cautioned that if we start messing with the state constitution, there are going to be some lawsuits and they are going to over the equal protection rights of the people of Alaska. Number 585 THEO MATTHEWS, testifying from Soldotna on behalf of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association stated their support for the resolution as a statement that ANILCA must be amended to define the term "rural." He said it is ludicrous for the federal government to demand any kind of preference, rural or otherwise, and not tell us what it means. He reiterated the association views the resolution as an important statement, and he suggested the concept of fish and game should also be addressed in the resolution. TAPE 95-57, SIDE B Number 020 SENATOR LEMAN asked if, in Mr. Matthews' opinion, any of the three communities named in the resolution qualify as rural. THEO MATTHEWS answered that they have testified in the past that no community on the main peninsula qualifies as rural. Number 030 SENATOR LEMAN asked if the administration has a position on SJR 28, and ROBERT BOSWORTH acknowledged that they do support it. Number 050 SENATOR LINCOLN moved and asked unanimous consent that SJR 28 be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. SENATOR LEMAN objected to make the statement that he thinks the resolution ought to be expanded to include some other things, but that could be done in the next committee of referral. He then removed his objection and stated SJR 28 was moved out of committee.