Legislature(1997 - 1998)
02/05/1997 03:41 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 19 FISH & GAME COMN'R NOT TO ENFORCE FED LAW CHAIRMAN HALFORD announced SB 19 to be up for consideration. SENATOR SHARP, sponsor, said that SB 19 repeals the present statutory mandate which is AS 16.05.050 (1) stating the State of Alaska will assist the federal government agencies in the enforcement of federal laws and regulations as they apply to fish and game resources in Alaska. He said in light of the aggressive federal action to assume management of fish and game over large areas of our State, in violation of our statehood compact, he felt repeal of this statute was prudent and in the best interests of the citizens of Alaska. He further stated that this was part of SB 77 that passed both bodies last year, but was vetoed. SENATOR LINCOLN said the only piece of correspondence the committee received on this issue was from the Alaska Peace Officers Association, which is throughout the State, and they unanimously opposed it. She asked if he knew why. SENATOR SHARP said this is the only correspondence he has seen from them and he hadn't received a phone call from them on any details. SENATOR LINCOLN asked if by eliminating that portion of the statutory mandate they are saying the State of Alaska will not be assisting the federal government in enforcing their laws. SENATOR SHARP replied that it will not mandate that they shall enforce every federal regulation and law on the books. He didn't think they had a choice now. He wanted the Commissioner to have the discretion. He said there would continue to be cooperation beyond the three-mile limit, because that's federal law and the State has routinely worked with the feds on that enforcement. This language pertains to enforcement where federal laws and regulations are contrary to existing State statutes and regulations. COLONEL GLASS, Fish and Wildlife Protection, said he had some concerns with this bill because there are 81 officers enforcing fish and wildlife laws; and if they could not cooperate and deal with the federal people, the resources would be damaged. SENATOR TAYLOR explained that removing the mandate still allows the department to have the discretion to enter into agreements and enforcement protocols that they want to enter into. This removes the hammer, if the department did not feel comfortable or appropriate in going out and assisting. He said last year he had not heard any opposition to this specific section. COLONEL GLASS responded that that was his concern, and as long as they could enter into MOUs and agreement letters, using the Lacey Act as an example, he would have his concern answered. SENATOR SHARP reiterated that he did not see how taking the mandate away does any harm to working together in those areas that would be beneficial to enforce State regulation or laws in conjunction with using federal laws that enhance their abilities to do that. CHAIRMAN HALFORD said he assumed that was the same concern the Alaska Peace Officers Association had. COLONEL GLASS said he was not aware they had filed that objection and he is a member of the Association. He said he would check with Sergeant McCorkel who signed the letter. CHAIRMAN HALFORD said he understands that they are repealing a duty and not a power and he assumed that was what the Alaska Peace Officer's objection was. CHAIRMAN HALFORD noted that there was a motion before them to move SB 19 from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN HALFORD noted that it passed with the accompanying $0 fiscal notes.