Legislature(1995 - 1996)

05/05/1995 03:35 PM RES

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

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