Legislature(1997 - 1998)

05/08/1997 03:43 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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     CSHB 198(FIN) DIVE FISHERY MANAGEMENT ASSN. & ASSESSMNT                   
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD brought CSHB 198(FIN) before the committee as the             
next order of business.                                                        
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS, prime sponsor of HB 198, said the                
legislation is a jobs bill supported by the southeast communities.             
For the past decade Southeast Alaska has been attempting to                    
establish a orderly, consistent and stable fishery but the problem             
has always been a long-term funding mechanism for the merging                  
fishery.  HB 198 provides the divers with the ability to assess                
themselves to pay for the management of the dive fishery.  Divers              
would be able to organize associations, to assess themselves and to            
work with the Department of Fish and Game in a cooperative manner              
to solve the management problems and reduce management costs.                  
                                                                               
Representative Williams pointed out that timing is an important                
factor in this legislation.  There is some money in the operating              
budget to operate a small portion of the fisheries in FY 98, but in            
order to have a fishery in FY 99 and develop more jobs, the divers             
must start assessing themselves as soon as possible, and passage of            
HB 198 this session will allow this to happen.                                 
                                                                               
Number 085                                                                     
                                                                               
GERON BRUCE, Legislative Liaison, Department of Fish and Game,                 
addressing the funding of the legislation, said right now it would             
be general fund program receipts.  The impression by supporters of             
the bill is that it would provide new funding to the Department of             
Fish & Game to develop these new fisheries, but the passage of this            
bill alone will not accomplish that unless the revenue was                     
classified as designated program receipts under SB 55.  However,               
the current version of SB 55 will not include this kind of revenue             
as a designated program receipt, so the department is concerned                
that in order to develop this new fishery, funding will have to be             
taken from some existing fishery management program.  He noted the             
department has worked with the sponsor on a number of issues in the            
bill and has been able resolve them, but the funding issue remains             
an outstanding issue and a concern to the department.                          
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked what happens if the Finance Committee adopts            
the fiscal note for the bill in general funds.  MR. BRUCE responded            
there wouldn't be a cost until FY 99, but if the Legislature                   
continues to reduce the department's total overall budget, there               
would have to be cuts someplace else to go forward with this.                  
CHAIRMAN HALFORD commented that the program costs $302,000 and it              
generates $302,000.                                                            
                                                                               
SENATOR LEMAN suggested the program receipts legislation has                   
already passed this session, but it may be something that can be               
dealt with next year because he thinks it is something completely              
contrary to what he thinks the intent of the bill is which is to               
provide an alternative funding mechanism for the program.                      
                                                                               
Number 145                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR TAYLOR asked if Mr. Bruce was saying the department                    
supports the legislation.  MR. BRUCE replied that he was not saying            
the department supports the legislation.  He said they've worked to            
resolve a number of issues, but they have not taken a position of              
support because of their concern with the impact of this one issue             
on the department's overall budget.                                            
                                                                               
Number 160                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON said he thinks HB 198 would fall under SB 55 if              
it meets the criteria of that bill because SB 55 didn't set out a              
laundry list of different programs that would be considered to be              
designated program receipts.  One of the criteria is to enter into             
a contract with another entity where the funds would come in as a              
result of entering into that contract, and he thinks that it would             
qualify under the designated program receipts if they entered into             
a contract.                                                                    
                                                                               
Number 225                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR LINCOLN said there is no question that this a good piece of            
legislation, but she has heard concern that the money from the                 
assessments might be used for other than what it is intended for.              
She asked Representative Williams if that was of concern to him and            
how he proposes preventing that from happening.  REPRESENTATIVE                
WILLIAMS acknowledged that it is a concern, but he is optimistic               
that these monies will go where they are supposed to go.                       
                                                                               
Number 260                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR TAYLOR moved CSHB 198(FIN) and the accompanying fiscal note            
be passed out of committee with individual recommendations.                    
Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                       

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