Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/01/1996 03:38 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
           SB 311 MARINE SAFETY EDUCATION PROGRAMS                           
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN introduced SB 311 as the next order of business.               
                                                                               
  SENATOR JOHN TORGERSON , prime sponsor of SB 311, said he introduced         
 the legislation at the request of commercial fishermen in his                 
 district.  Basically, the funding for the program has come from the           
 federal government, but with recent budget cuts, it is facing                 
 elimination under the current funding level.  He noted the same               
 legislation was introduced in the House.                                      
                                                                               
 Senator Torgerson explained SB 311 allows for the appropriation of            
 50 percent of the income earned by the state on the balance of the            
 fishermen's fund for grants to the Alaska Marine Safety Education             
 Association (AMSEA) for this training program.                                
                                                                               
 Senator Torgerson said he recognizes that the entire budget of the            
 training program is somewhat less than 50 percent of what the fund            
 earns, so the 50 percent would overfund them approximately $45,000,           
 and he suggested the committee may want to amend the language to              
 allow appropriating up to 50 percent.                                         
                                                                               
 Senator Togerson stated he supports the fund and would like to see            
 it continue, and this funding source is one way to ensure that it             
 happens.                                                                      
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN  agreed that changing the language to up to 50                
 percent was appropriate in order to protect the integrity of the              
 fishermen's fund.                                                             
                                                                               
  SENATOR TAYLOR  moved the following amendment to SB 311:                     
                                                                               
 Amendment No. 1.                                                            
                                                                               
 Page l, line 8:  After the word "appropriate" insert "up to"                  
                                                                               
 Hearing no objection, the Chairman stated the amendment was adopted           
 and would be incorporated into a Resources CS.                                
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN  opened the public hearing on SB 311.                         
                                                                               
 Number 440                                                                    
  BARBARA BURCH , representing the Kodiak Fishermen's Wives and                
 testifying in Kodiak, voiced strong support for SB 311 and the                
 AMSEA program.                                                                
                                                                               
  PAT HOLMES , testifying in Kodiak, stated investing 50 percent of            
 the interest from this fund is a really good investment.  He is a             
 biologist for the Department of Fish & Game, and in addition to his           
 fishery management duties, he is also regional safety officer and             
 chair of the department's safety training committee.  He said they            
 extensively use the AMSEA materials in their training program, not            
 only for the crews of the vessels that conduct research and                   
 enforcement, but also for their seasonal employees who man the                
 field camps.  The department's training program is also offered to            
 personnel from the Department of Environmental Conservation and               
 personnel from the Division of Parks.  A spin-off program called              
 "Cold Water Kids" is used extensively in many schools in Southeast            
 Alaska and the Gulf of Alaska.  He urged the committee's support              
 for SB 311, because without state funding, the program will cease             
 to exist.                                                                     
                                                                               
  JAMES HERBERT , testifying in Seward, said he is one of Senator              
 Torgerson's constituents who encouraged him to introduce SB 311               
 because he supports training for commercial fishermen and mariners            
 in the state.  He has been a fisherman in Alaska for over 25 years,           
 and he believes that in recent years, attitude wise, things have              
 changed and a lot of that has to do with the work of the network of           
 volunteers that AMSEA has created throughout the state.  He                   
 believes the legislation targets a viable source of money,                    
 something that reasonably could be used to help prevent further               
 injuries through educating people.                                            
                                                                               
  JERRY DZUGAN , the director and training coordinator for AMSEA               
 testifying in Sitka, said AMSEA is an Alaska based nonprofit                  
 corporation, and they have been training mariners and marine safety           
 instructors from all over Alaska for the last 10 years.  He noted             
 Alaska's recreational and commercial boaters suffer the highest               
 fatality rate in the nation.  However, partly as a result of                  
 AMSEA's efforts and the efforts of all of the volunteers who help             
 AMSEA, the recreational and commercial fishing fatality rate has              
 dropped about 50 percent in the last several years.  He also                  
 pointed out AMSEA's unique Alaska specific program has been                   
 emulated on all other three coasts of the nation and Alaska is now            
 recognized by many in the nation as a place to go for quality                 
 hands-on training.  He stressed that AMSEA has no secured funding             
 in sight for the next fiscal year.                                            
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN  asked if private parties contribute to this                  
 nonprofit organization and if they are actively soliciting                    
 contributions from private parties.   MR. DZUGAN  replied that AMSEA          
 has about 100 members around the state, and they do contribute to             
 AMSEA's effort.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 560                                                                    
                                                                               
  MARK JOHNSON , Chief, Community Health & Emergency Medical Services,         
 Department of Health & Social Services, stated drowning is a major            
 problem in the state, and there is no other comprehensive program             
 like AMSEA that is offered in the state to address this issue.                
 He said drowning is not only a problem among the commercial fishing           
 community, it is a statewide problem that affects most regions and            
 most age groups.  The department feels AMSEA has been successful,             
 and they believe supporting AMSEA is in the best interest.                    
                                                                               
  MARIAH OFFER , an AMSEA instructor testifying in Kodiak, speaking to         
 the importance of the prevention of marine accidents, said AMSEA              
 has been a great support in keeping her up with requirements and              
 changes in regulations and information.                                       
                                                                               
  TAPE 96-43, SIDE B                                                           
 Number 010                                                                    
                                                                               
  JANE EIZMAN , a 19-year commercial fisherman testifying in Kodiak,           
 spoke to the improvement in safety measures being taken by                    
 fishermen in the last 19 years, and she attributed the                        
 understanding of safety regulations and the proper use of safety              
 equipment to AMSEA's efforts.  She noted she is an AMSEA                      
 instructor, as well as teacher of fisheries science at Kodiak High            
 School, and AMSEA is an integral part of her marine and wilderness            
 safety survival training program that she offers at the high                  
 school.  She added that as a contributor to the Fishermen's Fund              
 for the last 19 years and different licenses that she has                     
 purchased, she feels it is an appropriate use of funds.                       
                                                                               
  HANK PENNINGTON , testifying in Kodiak, said he has worked on                
 extending marine safety and survival training to fishermen in                 
 coastal communities and public schools in Alaska for the last 21              
 years.  He said the genesis of AMSEA was the fact that no single              
 agency had either the expertise or the resources or the geographic            
 coverage to get this training out where it was needed.  He voiced             
 his concern that if the legislation does not pass, AMSEA will                 
 wither.  He said what is needed is a stable base of funding for               
 AMSEA.                                                                        
                                                                               
  DEAN PADDOCK , testifying in Juneau on behalf of the Bristol Bay             
 Driftnetters' Association, said public safety is one of the truly             
 legitimate functions of government.  The present day demand for               
 AMSEA came as a federal mandate, and it was a temporarily funded              
 mandate.  He pointed out that it is already a user funded activity;           
 the fishermen have already paid.  He said AMSEA has done a great              
 job at a very low cost benefit ratio, and he urged passage of the             
 legislation.                                                                  
                                                                               
  SENATOR LINCOLN  offered as an amendment to page 1, line 8, after            
 the word "income" insert "from interest."  She said if at some time           
 in the future there is any other type of income that is earned by             
 the fishermen's fund, this would clarify that the "up to 50 percent           
 of the income earned" relates to interest income.                             
                                                                               
  BETTY MARTIN , Comptroller, Treasury Division, Department of                 
 Revenue, explained that the fund could also earn realized and                 
 unrealized gains.  Currently, it earns actual interest that is paid           
 into it, and then there is realized and unrealized gains on the               
 fixed income securities, and all of that, the net number, is paid             
 into the general fund annually.                                               
                                                                               
  SENATOR TORGERSON  asked Ms. Martin if she thought Senator Lincoln's         
 amendment was a good amendment for the purpose of the bill.   MS.             
 MARTIN  said she thought it was, because it will make a more                  
 consistent cash flow to the fund.                                             
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN  asked if there was any objection to Senator                  
 Lincoln's amendment.  Hearing no objection, he stated the amendment           
 was adopted.  He then asked for the pleasure of the committee.                
                                                                               
  SENATOR PEARCE  moved CSSB 311(RES) and the accompanying fiscal              
 notes be passed out of committee with individual recommendations.             
 Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                      

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