Legislature(1995 - 1996)
1995-05-10 House JournalFull Journal pdf
1995-05-10 House Journal Page 2085 HB 344 HOUSE BILL NO. 344 by the House Rules Committee by request of the Governor, entitled: "An Act authorizing the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources to negotiate and enter into timber sale contracts that provide for local manufacture of high value-added wood products; and establishing an Alaska Forest Products Research and Marketing Program within the Department of Commerce and Economic Development." was read the first time and referred to the Resources and Finance Committees. The following fiscal notes apply: Fiscal note, Dept. of Natural Resources, 5/10/95 Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Community & Regional Affairs, 5/10/95 Zero fiscal note, University of Alaska, 5/10/95 Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Commerce & Economic Development, 5/10/95 The Governor's transmittal letter, dated May 9, 1995, appears below: "Dear Speaker Phillips: Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution, I am transmitting a bill that establishes a new negotiated timber sales program for state land managed by the Department of Natural Resources. This bill addresses the need to stimulate local, small scale 1995-05-10 House Journal Page 2086 HB 344 value-added processing of Alaska's forest resources and to foster creation of Alaskan jobs. With the introduction of this bill, we seek to provide a new focus on how timber should be managed in Alaska by providing more jobs from timber cut on state lands by encouraging industries that process high-value finished wood products. At the same time, this legislation provides direction on management of our forests to preserve fish and wildlife habitat and other uses of the forest including tourism, fisheries, personal and family uses including hunting and fishing. The goal of my Administration in proposing this bill is to develop sound long-term strategies for managing Alaska's forest resources so as to provide the highest and best economic uses in local communities that are dependent on timber resources while maintaining other Alaskan uses through the constitutionally mandated sustained yield principles. The attached bill maximizes the opportunity for employment while minimizing the impact on other uses of our state forests. I am introducing this legislation in the final days of the session because it is my understanding that the legislature will be holding hearings on timber over the interim and I think it is critical that the new directions embodied in this bill are considered in the discussions of the legislature. The bill has two main components: provisions for incentives for local manufacture of high value-added wood products and other value-added wood products from timber on state lands and authorizing use of such incentives in awarding special negotiated timber sale contracts (sec. 2 of the bill) creation of an Alaska Forest Products Research and Marketing Program within the Department of Commerce and Economic Development to coordinate research and marketing efforts related to value-added manufacturing of Alaska wood products (sec. 3 of the bill). An uncertain supply of timber is one of the primary factors limiting the development of high value-added wood products manufacturing 1995-05-10 House Journal Page 2087 HB 344 facilities in the state. To address this problem, sec. 2 of the bill proposes a new special negotiated timber sale program for timber destined for local manufacture of high value-added wood products. Contracts negotiated under this section may be for the harvest of up to five million board feet of timber each year for up to 10 years. Stumpage rates would not be less than the base price established under regulations. Planning for this program by the Department of Natural Resources also will take into account sustained yield principles of timber harvest, the need for protection of fish and wildlife populations and habitat and maximizing opportunities for public uses of the state's forests. The same public comment will apply to the planning process as it is does with sales conducted presently. Existing forest planning requirements would apply to these new negotiated sales and other timber sales programs would not be affected. To participate in a negotiated timber sale authorized in sec.2 of the bill, the prospective purchaser must agree to use at least 50 percent of the timber from the sale for the local manufacture of high value-added wood products. In determining whether it is in the state's best interest to enter into a sale contract under sec. 2, the commissioner is to consider the economic benefits to the region from the local manufacture of the high value-added wood products as well as from the local manufacture of other value-added wood products; the commissioner also must ensure the sustainability of fish and wildlife populations and habitat and other uses of the forest. My Administration will be working with the Alaska Congressional delegation to ensure that appropriate related changes are made to federal law. Section 3 of the bill establishes an Alaska Forest Products Research and Marketing Program to encourage in-state processing of Alaska timber into value-added wood products. The program coordinator is to gather and disseminate existing information related to the manufacture of value-added wood products and to identify unfilled needs and problems, conduct analyses and propose solutions to assist local manufacturers. This program will be accomplished through an existing position in the Department of Commerce. The provisions proposed in this bill will provide a mechanism for encouraging the development of Alaskan businesses and Alaskan jobs, 1995-05-10 House Journal Page 2088 HB 344 and will establish a new timber sales program as a means of encouraging local processing. It should help address the crisis that faces Alaskan communities that are largely dependent on the jobs the forest products industry provides. I urge your favorable action on this bill. Sincerely, /s/ Tony Knowles Governor"