Legislature(2015 - 2016)HOUSE FINANCE 519
04/03/2015 01:30 PM House FINANCE
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HOUSE BILL NO. 41 "An Act relating to sport fishing services, sport fishing operators, and sport fishing guides; and providing for an effective date." 2:12:54 PM Co-Chair Neuman MOVED to ADOPT the proposed committee substitute for HB 41, Work Draft 29-LS0238\, Bullard, 3/25/15. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. JANE PIERSON, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE STEVE THOMPSON, explained the changes in the committee substitute. She stated that Sections 1 and 2 were eliminated in the current version. Co-Chair Neuman wondered if the elimination of the two sections resulted in a positive fiscal note. Ms. Pierson responded affirmatively. REPRESENTATIVE CATHY TILTON, SPONSOR, explained that the bill was a sunset repealer of the sport fishing licensure. She spoke in support of the committee substitute, and appreciated the work to make a positive fiscal note. Co-Chair Neuman queried the issue of federal log books and whether electronic monitoring would occur in the current year. Representative Tilton responded that the bill did not cover the issue of federal log books. . HEATH HILYARD, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE CATHY TILTON, referred to Mr. Johnson who had come in front of the committee regarding the federal issue as related to the log books. He agreed with Mr. Johnson's concerns, but stressed that the bill could not fix those concerns. 2:17:37 PM Representative Munoz asked about the issue of the electronic submission of the data, and wondered if the system would work in concert with the federal programs. Mr. Hilyard responded that the log books were interrelated. The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) collected the halibut data and submitted the data to the National Marine Fishery Service. That data would then influence determinations on annual harvest measures. Representative Munoz asked if the goal was to keep the data limited to one-time input. Mr. Hilyard deferred to DFG. TOM BROOKOVER, DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME, replied that the log book program was intended to cover both the federal and state requirements. The electronic log book program would expand its license modernization effort through a pilot electronic log book program on the Kenai River. Representative Munoz asked about the issue of bear boats as an exemption from the charter requirements. She wondered how that activity was in the charter regulations. Mr. Hilyard replied that the issue was about the point at what constitutes a "charter." He explained that there were some various business models that may or may not provide guides on those boats. He stated that the council had adopted a new regulation that only incentivized operators to be cleverer about how to structure their operation. The current regulation stipulated that an outfit could not provide further assistance, once the angler line was in the water. 2:23:22 PM Representative Munoz was concerned with anglers in small boats that belong to lodges. She wondered how to get a handle on the out of state fish shipments. Mr. Hilyard pointed out that salmon was a state-managed fish, so the state could put a limitation based on residency. He furthered that halibut was a federally regulated fish, so there was no limitation based on residency. He stated that the federal government put limitations on guided versus unguided fish. Representative Wilson asked what would happen if the bill does not pass. Mr. Hilyard responded that DPS was offering stopgap permits, but did not receive any revenue. He deferred to Mr. Brookover. Mr. Brookover said that without the bill, a fee could not be required. Representative Wilson wanted to understand all of the requirements of the permit. She wondered if the bill disadvantaged those people who were only trying to fish for personal reasons. Co-Chair Thompson commented about the definition of a friend. He stressed there should be safety measures in place. 2:28:49 PM Representative Wilson wanted to hear the difference between someone who wanted to fish for food, but could not afford their own boat; versus a visitor who wanted an Alaskan experience. Representative Kawasaki asked about the original intent of the bill. He surmised that there was a growth in sport fish charter operators. Mr. Hilyard responded that regardless of the significant restrictions on harvest levels for charter fishing, the charter fishery did exceed its allocation of halibut by a very significant margin. He stressed that there was still a concern about the fishery continuing to exceed its harvest. Representative Kawasaki queried the original intent of the original 2004 legislation. Mr. Brookover responded that the information on guide numbers and their fishing activities was very limited or not available in many parts of the state. There was a registration requirement at the time, but anyone could come in and register. It was discovered that a licensing requirement providing information about who was actively participating in the fishery. 2:33:02 PM Representative Kawasaki asked why there was a five-year sunset placed on the original legislation, and another five years in 2009. Mr. Brookover replied that he did not know the reason for the five-year sunset. Representative Kawasaki recalled a discussion about the need for some receipts to enact the log book program. He explained that there was a discussion in 2009 about DFG needing a revenue stream to continue the log book. Mr. Hilyard replied that he was not aware of that conversation. Co-Chair Neuman said that he had spent some time on the legislation, so he offered some responses to some committee members' inquiries. In response to a question from Representative Kawasaki, he said that DFG did not need additional funds to fully implement and expand the log book program. The department had completed the electronic licensing program, so no further funds were necessary. He stated that the program was initially formulated to ensure safety. Representative Gattis looked at it from the standpoint of how it affected her district. She did not feel it affected the Mat-Su. She stressed that it was truly about the electronic log book. 2:39:26 PM Representative Pruitt wanted to return to the bare boat situation. He wanted to know if those were exempt. Mr. Hilyard replied that they may or may not be exempt. Representative Pruitt wondered if there were individuals who were taking money from other Alaskans by not participating in the program. Mr. Hilyard replied that the ethical businesses were paying their taxes, but may not be licensed to guide. Co-Chair Neuman shared that there were skiff rentals in Southeast Alaska that did not require guides. 2:42:51 PM RYAN MAKINSTER, DIRECTOR, SOUTHEAST ALASKA GUIDES ORGANIZATION (via teleconference), spoke in favor of the bill. He stated that the program had worked well in the past, and was beneficial to his organization's members and the industry. He stated that the industry standards, safety requirements, insurance, and ability to track data in the log book were all beneficial to the industry. 2:45:00 PM ANDY MEZIROW, GOVERNOR'S APPOINTEE, NORTH PACIFIC FISHERY MANAGEMENT COUNCIL (via teleconference), spoke in favor of the bill. He understood that there was some resistance to doubling the fee, but felt that the fee increase would stabilize the program to 2026. He felt that the industry would help the current budget crisis. He remarked that the log books were used to determine the guided angler participation, catch levels, and release mortality. Each guide must be identified in order to proper regulate the industry. Co-Chair Thompson CLOSED public testimony. 2:47:41 PM Representative Munoz queried the difference between the nonresident and resident fishing limits on salmon. She wondered if a person on a bare boat would have different fishing limits than a guided operation. Mr. Hilyard responded the salmon limit was based on residency, not whether the angler was with a guide or no guide. He believed that the limit for king salmon in Southeast was 3 per day for a resident, and 2 per day - with a maximum of 6 annually - for a nonresident. Co-Chair Neuman remarked that it was anticipated that the regulations be implemented March 31, 2016. He remarked that staff must be in place to work on the log books. Mr. Brookover agreed. He stated that the department was issuing log books in 2015, and proceeding accordingly. He was confident that the regulations could be in place by the deadline. 2:51:34 PM Co-Chair Neuman asked Representative Tilton about making sure there was not a gap with funding and the effective date. Co-Chair Neuman discussed the fiscal note. Co-Chair Neuman MOVED to report CSHB 41(FIN) out of Committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal note. There being NO OBJECTION, CSHB 41(FIN) was REPORTED out of committee with a "no recommendation" recommendation and with a new fiscal impact note from the Department of Fish and Game. 2:55:14 PM AT EASE 2:57:05 PM RECONVENED