Legislature(2015 - 2016)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/10/2015 01:30 PM House FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 15(FIN) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 137                                                                                                            
     "An Act raising certain  fees related to sport fishing,                                                                    
     hunting, and  trapping; raising the age  of eligibility                                                                    
     for  a  sport  fishing, hunting,  or  trapping  license                                                                    
     exemption  for  state residents  to  65  years of  age;                                                                    
     requiring state residents to purchase  big game tags to                                                                    
     take certain  species; and  providing for  an effective                                                                    
2:52:13 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Wilson MOVED to  ADOPT the proposed committee                                                                    
substitute  for HB  137,  Work  Draft 29-LS0625\G  (Bullard,                                                                    
4/9/15). There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                           
JANE   PIERSON,   STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE   STEVE   THOMPSON,                                                                    
discussed the changes  in the CS. She  highlighted the first                                                                    
change  that appeared  in the  bill title  (page 1,  lines 2                                                                    
through 5)  and read  a segment of  the title:  "...the fish                                                                    
and  game  fund;  providing  for the  repeal  of  the  sport                                                                    
fishing surcharge and sport  fishing facility revenue bonds;                                                                    
replacing   the  permanent   sport   fishing,  hunting,   or                                                                    
trapping..." The  language meant  that the $9  surcharge for                                                                    
hatcheries  in Anchorage  and Fairbanks,  which  was due  to                                                                    
expire  around 2021,  would go  directly on  top of  fishing                                                                    
licenses.  The impact  of the  language  change appeared  in                                                                    
Sections 4,  9, 11, 13,  15, and 32. She  directed attention                                                                    
to Section  34 and  explained that  the revisors  of statute                                                                    
would be notified  when the bond was paid  off; the sections                                                                    
[Sections 4,  9, 11,  13, 15, and  32] were  conditional and                                                                    
would  only take  effect when  the  bonds were  paid off  as                                                                    
shown in Section 35.                                                                                                            
Ms. Pierson  pointed to lines  3 through 5 (page  1) related                                                                    
to  replacing  the  permanent  sport  fishing,  hunting,  or                                                                    
trapping identification  card for certain residents  with an                                                                    
identification  card that  would be  valid for  three years.                                                                    
She explained that  the senior card (for ages  62 and older)                                                                    
that  was currently  good for  life,  would require  renewal                                                                    
every three years; the card would remain free of charge.                                                                        
Ms.  Pierson  moved  to  page  5,  lines  1  through  4  and                                                                    
addressed language  related to  the low income  license. She                                                                    
detailed there  was a slightly different  way for accounting                                                                    
for the specific  license, which would be based  on the most                                                                    
recent  poverty guidelines  set  by the  U.S. Department  of                                                                    
Health and  Social Services  (instead of  a set  number) for                                                                    
the previous  year. The next change  was also on page  5 and                                                                    
related  to the  surcharge  increase.  The following  change                                                                    
appeared  on page  5,  line 31  and  related to  nonresident                                                                    
hunting  and fishing  licenses. She  stated that  "there was                                                                    
now a 75 percent raise" in  the licenses. She pointed to the                                                                    
difference shown on the entire page.                                                                                            
Ms. Pierson  addressed a  change on  page 6  associated with                                                                    
nonresident  big  game  tags,  which  would  receive  a  fee                                                                    
increase of  100 percent. She  moved to  a change on  page 9                                                                    
related to  the fish and  game conservation decal.  She read                                                                    
from lines 15 through 19 on page 6:                                                                                             
     Subject  to  appropriation  by the  legislature,  money                                                                    
     received  under  this  section   may  be  used  by  the                                                                    
     department  to   fund  programs  benefiting   fish  and                                                                    
     wildlife conservation. Those  programs may include fish                                                                    
     and wildlife viewing, fish  and wildlife education, and                                                                    
     programs relating to fish and wildlife diversity.                                                                          
2:57:24 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Pierson continued to address  the changes in the CS. She                                                                    
highlighted  language  on  page  9  (lines  21  through  31)                                                                    
related to the renewal of free licenses for seniors.                                                                            
Co-Chair  Thompson asked  the bill  sponsor  to address  the                                                                    
committee. He noted that public  testimony would be heard at                                                                    
9:00  a.m. the  following  Monday if  it  was not  completed                                                                    
during the current meeting.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  DAVE TALERICO,  SPONSOR,  explained that  he                                                                    
had been  inspired to offer  the legislation because  it was                                                                    
about the  opportunity for Alaska  residents to  continue to                                                                    
enjoy  the state's  resources  and to  have  the ability  to                                                                    
participate  in  its  hunting  and  fishing  activities.  He                                                                    
supported the changes made to  the legislation and was happy                                                                    
with the CS.                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Thompson noted  that  there  were multiple  people                                                                    
from the department available to answer questions.                                                                              
Representative   Kawasaki    requested   an    updated   fee                                                                    
spreadsheet  showing current  statute compared  to different                                                                    
versions of the bill.                                                                                                           
Co-Chair Thompson OPENED public testimony.                                                                                      
3:01:09 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  PETERSON, SELF,  JUNEAU,  testified  in opposition  to                                                                    
pages  4 through  6 of  the  CS pertaining  to resident  and                                                                    
nonresident fees.  He believed the resident  and nonresident                                                                    
fees could  be doubled across  the board. He shared  that he                                                                    
hunted in Oregon and paid  $148.50 for a nonresident hunting                                                                    
fee. He  did not "blink  an eye"  at the charge  because the                                                                    
money went  towards keeping game  up. He stated that  it had                                                                    
been 20 years  since the fees had been raised  in Alaska and                                                                    
surmised that it could be another 20 years.                                                                                     
3:03:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MITCH FALK, SELF, JUNEAU, supported  the bill's premise, but                                                                    
opposed the  recent CS. He  agreed that the state  needed to                                                                    
start  raising  money for  its  fish  and game  efforts.  He                                                                    
believed residents should be included.  He stated that there                                                                    
was a  lot of money  left on  the table through  the federal                                                                    
Pittman   Robertson  funds.   He   detailed  that   everyone                                                                    
throughout the  U.S. paid the  taxes on all  sporting goods.                                                                    
He stressed that other states  would use the funds if Alaska                                                                    
did not.  He relayed that the  federal money was a  three to                                                                    
one matching  fund. He  stated that the  $10 would  bring in                                                                    
$30. He spoke to the  lifetime licenses. He stated that most                                                                    
people  in their  60s had  much  more money  than people  in                                                                    
their 20s. He  thought the time may have come  to sunset the                                                                    
free licenses for  seniors. He had been told  there had been                                                                    
87,000 of  the free licenses  issued. He surmised that  if a                                                                    
$10 renewal fee  was charged every few years it  was not too                                                                    
much to  ask, especially  given that residents  received the                                                                    
annual Permanent Fund Dividend.                                                                                                 
3:05:25 PM                                                                                                                    
EDDY GRASSER,  SAFARI CLUB  INTERNATIONAL -  ALASKA CHAPTER,                                                                    
JUNEAU, spoke  in opposition to  the current version  of the                                                                    
bill. He  relayed that a  broad coalition of  outdoor groups                                                                    
throughout  the state  had come  together in  support of  an                                                                    
increase   for  fish   and  game   licenses  and   tags.  He                                                                    
appreciated the bill  and Representative Talerico's efforts.                                                                    
He  discussed that  America  had one  of  the best  wildlife                                                                    
conservation  programs   in  the  world  called   the  North                                                                    
American  Model for  Wildlife Conservation.  He shared  that                                                                    
the program had been  instituted by various people including                                                                    
Teddy  Roosevelt and  others. He  explained that  a user-pay                                                                    
system  had been  created. He  relayed that  users had  come                                                                    
before the  legislature in the  past to ask for  an increase                                                                    
or to institute a license  fee. He shared that sportsmen had                                                                    
talked Congress  into creating the Pittman  Robertson Act in                                                                    
1937. He stressed  that the act was passed  during the Great                                                                    
Depression and  individuals had much less  money than people                                                                    
did in  present times. He  agreed with the  prior testifiers                                                                    
that the  fees in  the CS  were not  high enough  to capture                                                                    
federal Pittman  Robertson funds. He believed  the bill left                                                                    
significant money  on the table in  Pittman Robertson funds.                                                                    
He recommended increasing the fees.                                                                                             
3:08:49 PM                                                                                                                    
RON  SOMERVILLE,  TERRITORIAL SPORTSMAN,  JUNEAU,  discussed                                                                    
that  there  had been  two  different  proposals during  the                                                                    
current session  that both  looked for  a certain  amount of                                                                    
money to  match general fund  money that may  disappear from                                                                    
sport  fish   and  wildlife.  He  stated   that  there  were                                                                    
currently $12  million to  $13 million  in general  funds in                                                                    
the two  divisions. He  shared that he  had been  the deputy                                                                    
commissioner  for  the Department  of  Fish  and Game  (DFG)                                                                    
under  the   Walter  Hickel  Administration  and   had  been                                                                    
responsible for the budget. He  discussed that the divisions                                                                    
competed  with others  and  had lost  all  of their  general                                                                    
funding during  his time with  the department.  He explained                                                                    
that the sportsmen wanted the  programs to continue and were                                                                    
willing  to pay  for  them.  He explained  that  one of  the                                                                    
proposals   had  included   resident   tag  fees;   however,                                                                    
sportsmen  believed it  was more  workable  to move  forward                                                                    
with  a   fairly  sizable  increase  in   license  fees  for                                                                    
residents  and  nonresidents  in addition  to  an  intensive                                                                    
management surcharge of $10 for  all hunting licenses, which                                                                    
would sunset in  three years. He shared two  graphs with the                                                                    
committee (copy on file). He  explained that the first graph                                                                    
showed  Pittman  Robertson money  that  was  available at  a                                                                    
ratio  of  3  to  1  for  wildlife.  He  detailed  that  the                                                                    
obligated  money for  fish and  game was  not sufficient  to                                                                    
match  the federal  money (there  was about  $10 million  in                                                                    
federal funds remaining on the  table). He stated that there                                                                    
was  a good  chance a  similar  amount would  remain in  the                                                                    
current year.                                                                                                                   
Mr. Somerville  respected the bill sponsor's  option, but he                                                                    
felt it was necessary to  increase fees even more. He stated                                                                    
that    the   Territorial    Sportsmen   had    consistently                                                                    
communicated  the amount  of money  they wanted  to generate                                                                    
and how to achieve the goal.  He stated that there were many                                                                    
things that federal aid was  not capable of funding, such as                                                                    
predator  control. He  discussed  that  the legislature  had                                                                    
passed  a  law  called intensive  management  requiring  the                                                                    
department, where possible, to  control predators to produce                                                                    
more game  (particularly moose and  caribou) for  harvest by                                                                    
Alaskans. He  highlighted the second  graph relating  to the                                                                    
current predator control  program. Additionally, federal aid                                                                    
would not  fund conflicts related to  endangered species. He                                                                    
stated that endangered species conflicts  related to much of                                                                    
the economic  development concerns  the state had  about the                                                                    
expansion  of  the  listing of  endangered  species  in  the                                                                    
state.  He   stressed  that   the  regulatory   process  was                                                                    
complicated  in Alaska  and most  of the  Board of  Fish and                                                                    
Board   of  Game   processes;   information  and   education                                                                    
programs;   and   the   Alaska   National   Interest   Lands                                                                    
Conservation Act  (ANILCA) implementation program  could not                                                                    
be funded by  federal aid. He spoke to  federal overreach in                                                                    
the state.  He stressed  that it  was important  to generate                                                                    
enough fish and  game money in order to pick  up some of the                                                                    
critical programs.  He emphasized  that the contents  of the                                                                    
current legislation was not sufficient.                                                                                         
Mr. Somerville  stated that  the issue  was not  about urban                                                                    
versus  rural areas.  He stated  that  the predator  control                                                                    
programs had  been very  successful in  some areas.  He used                                                                    
Unit 9 as  a successful area where a decline  in the caribou                                                                    
population had  been stopped. He  wanted the  legislature to                                                                    
tell  the departments  which one  of the  programs it  would                                                                    
like to see  disappear if the funds could  not be generated.                                                                    
He  stressed that  the programs  were currently  funded with                                                                    
general funds; it was necessary  to generate additional fish                                                                    
and game funds to pick the programs up.                                                                                         
3:15:11 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Kawasaki referred  to Mr.  Grasser's comment                                                                    
about raising  the non-resident fees.  He observed  that the                                                                    
original outdoor caucus's suggestions  had been much higher.                                                                    
He referred to  case law in the bill  packet addressing that                                                                    
it  was  legal  to  charge  nonresidents  higher  fees  than                                                                    
residents. He  specifically spoke  to elk hunting  and noted                                                                    
that nonresidents  paid 25  times more  than a  resident. He                                                                    
wondered if the  numbers were similar or in  line with those                                                                    
in other states.                                                                                                                
Mr.  Grasser replied  that the  organization he  represented                                                                    
[Safari  Club  International]  had  offices  nationwide.  He                                                                    
relayed    that     there    were    states     where    the                                                                    
resident/nonresident  ratio was  far greater  than 25  to 1.                                                                    
For example, a nonresident mule  deer hunting tag in Arizona                                                                    
was $2,500.                                                                                                                     
Representative  Kawasaki stated  that  in  version P  [House                                                                    
Judiciary Committee  CS] the suggestion was  to increase the                                                                    
resident  hunting fee  to  $40 and  the  nonresident fee  to                                                                    
$125, which  was roughly  3.5 to 4  times more.  He believed                                                                    
the idea may be something  to consider. He wondered if there                                                                    
were groups who thought that  adding to the nonresident fees                                                                    
would reduce the number of out of state hunters in Alaska.                                                                      
Mr.   Grasser  answered   that   as  long   as  raises   for                                                                    
nonresidents were  reasonable he  did not see  it as  a road                                                                    
block to  participation in hunting activities  in Alaska. He                                                                    
noted  that  another  member  of the  public  signed  up  to                                                                    
testify  may have  a better  answer  as he  was currently  a                                                                    
hunting guide.                                                                                                                  
Representative  Gara  spoke  to the  nonresident  fees  that                                                                    
seemed low.  He asked  if the  group had  a proposal  on how                                                                    
much to  increase the nonresident  fees that would act  as a                                                                    
disincentive to nonresident sportspersons.                                                                                      
Mr. Grasser answered that the  coalition had suggested a 100                                                                    
percent increase  in nonresident  tag fees, rather  than the                                                                    
75 percent  in the CS. For  example, a brown bear  tag would                                                                    
increase  from $500  to  $1000. He  surmised  that it  could                                                                    
probably be  even higher  for brown bear  tags, but  not for                                                                    
all species.  He noted there were  other destinations people                                                                    
could  hunt in  North  America; therefore,  if  the fee  was                                                                    
increased  too high,  hunters would  go to  other locations.                                                                    
For example,  hunting was available in  British Columbia and                                                                    
Yukon Territories  for Alaska Yukon moose,  caribou, grizzly                                                                    
bear, Dall sheep, and mountain goat.                                                                                            
3:19:20 PM                                                                                                                    
MATT  ROBUS,  SELF, JUNEAU,  relayed  that  he was  a  board                                                                    
member  of Territorial  Sportsmen  Inc., which  was a  local                                                                    
group; additionally,  previously he  served as  the director                                                                    
of the Division  of Wildlife with DFG. He  believed the bill                                                                    
did not increase  fees enough. He opined that  at a minimum,                                                                    
the increases  in the bill  needed to account  for inflation                                                                    
that had occurred since the  last license fee increase 1993,                                                                    
which amounted to a 63  percent correction. He detailed that                                                                    
a  $25 resident  hunting license  in 1993  was worth  $41 at                                                                    
present; however,  the state was still  only collecting $25.                                                                    
He stated that  the proposed increases in the CS  and in the                                                                    
prior bill version  were well below that  level. He believed                                                                    
it  was true  that  there  would not  be  another chance  to                                                                    
increase  revenue to  the  Fish and  Game  Fund for  another                                                                    
decade or two.  He felt it was a substantial  problem to not                                                                    
even  catch  up with  inflation.  He  pointed out  that  the                                                                    
department needed  to have sufficient  money in the  fund to                                                                    
match  all  of  the  federal Pittman  Robertson  and  Dingle                                                                    
Johnson funds  (wildlife and sport fish  funds respectively)                                                                    
in order to  maintain the heart of the  survey and inventory                                                                    
programs  that allowed  the department  to recommend  to the                                                                    
boards how to set seasons and  bag limits and to preserve as                                                                    
much opportunity as possible  for Alaskans and nonresidents.                                                                    
He  stated that  if the  federal money  (that had  increased                                                                    
radically in the past several  years) was left on the table,                                                                    
the state  would lose  out on  funds paid  by sportspersons.                                                                    
The money  was administered  by the federal  government, but                                                                    
it was generated  by users. He reasoned that at  a time when                                                                    
the  state was  having financial  problems, the  federal aid                                                                    
money would  be a boon  to the  state. He believed  the bill                                                                    
should be  set at  a level  that would  enable the  state to                                                                    
take advantage of all of the federal money available.                                                                           
Mr.  Robus  shared that  in  the  early 2000s  the  Wildlife                                                                    
Division had  been depleted of  all general  funds; however,                                                                    
currently 13 percent of the  wildlife and sport fish budgets                                                                    
were  composed of  general funds.  He  believed the  general                                                                    
fund  money  would  probably disappear;  however,  the  jobs                                                                    
mandated by  the legislature, such as  intensive management,                                                                    
would  not be  possible  without funding.  He addressed  the                                                                    
ability  of  the  state  to  deal  with  endangered  species                                                                    
initiatives or  petitions (some of  which he believed  to be                                                                    
frivolous  or mischievous)  represented a  real cost  to the                                                                    
state. He  detailed that it  was difficult for the  state to                                                                    
defend against  them without the  ability to do  research to                                                                    
prove its side of the argument.  He believed it was a unique                                                                    
moment,   where  an   unprecedented  coalition   of  outdoor                                                                    
oriented people were all asking  to have the license and tag                                                                    
fees  increased to  the level  shown in  a coalition  letter                                                                    
(copy on  file). He  noted that  the coalition  had included                                                                    
the fee level  it believed was appropriate in  order for the                                                                    
department to properly  do its job and  provide wildlife and                                                                    
fisheries opportunity to Alaskans and nonresident visitors.                                                                     
Co-Chair Thompson gave the gavel to Vice-Chair Saddler.                                                                         
3:25:07 PM                                                                                                                    
DOUG  LARSEN,  SELF,  JUNEAU,  believed   the  fees  in  the                                                                    
existing bill  were not sufficient.  He relayed that  he had                                                                    
served  as   the  director  of  the   Division  of  Wildlife                                                                    
Conservation with DFG in the  past. He relayed that based on                                                                    
his  past work  he had  a good  understanding of  the budget                                                                    
challenges the division faced.                                                                                                  
     I support the coalition's  proposed rates and feel that                                                                    
     the amounts  in the  existing bill are  insufficient as                                                                    
     others  have  testified to.  I've  heard  there may  be                                                                    
     concerns among  legislators about not wanting  to raise                                                                    
     resident  fees too  much. As  a  resident I  appreciate                                                                    
     that.  However,  if  you  look   at  the  resident  and                                                                    
     nonresident   fees   and   contributions,   nonresident                                                                    
     hunters have  historically made up about  20 percent of                                                                    
     the  hunters that  come to  Alaska each  year; however,                                                                    
     they contribute  about 75 percent  of the funds  to the                                                                    
     Fish and Game  Fund. Residents on the  other hand, make                                                                    
     up  about 80  percent  of the  hunters  in Alaska  each                                                                    
     year,  but  they contribute  about  25  percent of  the                                                                    
     funds   to  the   Fish  and   Game   Fund.  A   similar                                                                    
     relationship exists with the  sports fishing fees. This                                                                    
     isn't  so much  a  reflection  of inappropriately  high                                                                    
     nonresident  fees,  in  fact  as  you  heard  from  Mr.                                                                    
     Grasser and  others, compared  to other  states, Alaska                                                                    
     was pretty  reasonable in that  regard. Rather,  it's a                                                                    
     reflection  of   inappropriately  low   resident  fees.                                                                    
     That's why  I'm supporting  the fee  increases proposed                                                                    
     by the coalition.                                                                                                          
     I retired last October from  the Department of Fish and                                                                    
     Game and my income is now  less than it was while I was                                                                    
     working.  Nonetheless, like  many  other Alaskans,  I'm                                                                    
     willing and  prepared to dig  deeper into my  pocket to                                                                    
     pay  a  higher  amount  to ensure  that  programs  like                                                                    
     surveying  inventory,  intensive management,  ESA,  and                                                                    
     access  defense remain  viable. This  is not  the first                                                                    
     time, I  think it's  important to  note, that  this fee                                                                    
     increase   idea   has   come  forward.   Efforts   were                                                                    
     contemplated  during  Mr.  Robus's  tenure  and  during                                                                    
     mine,  and  more  recently during  Doug  Vincent-Lang's                                                                    
     tenure  as director.  However, as  has  been noted,  up                                                                    
     until  now we  couldn't find  agreement among  the user                                                                    
     groups.  At this  point, there  is  strong support  for                                                                    
     higher both resident and nonresident  fees. In my mind,                                                                    
     as Mr. Robus said, this  is a huge difference from what                                                                    
     we've faced in the past.                                                                                                   
     I think it's  important to make a quick  note about the                                                                    
     IM  surcharge   concept.  I'm   not  sure   whether  IM                                                                    
     surcharge  is the  correct  terminology  to use,  quite                                                                    
     frankly I know  that some people get  very anxious when                                                                    
     they  hear the  term  intensive  management. Just  like                                                                    
     others   get   anxious   when  they   hear   the   term                                                                    
     conservation pass  or decal. The reality  is that funds                                                                    
     that go into the Fish and  Game Fund will and should be                                                                    
     used  for  surveying inventory,  intensive  management,                                                                    
     and  wildlife  diversity.  Intensive management  was  a                                                                    
     broader  application  than  just predator  control;  it                                                                    
     involves habitat  assessment, predator/prey assessments                                                                    
     to  determine whether  in fact  predator control  would                                                                    
     even be  a useful  way to  increase populations  as Mr.                                                                    
     Somerville  related  earlier.  The  state  receives  $2                                                                    
     million  to  $3  million annually  from  federal  state                                                                    
     wildlife  grants  funds.   Those  funds,  like  Pittman                                                                    
     Robertson  must  be  matched  by  state  funds.  Absent                                                                    
     sufficient GF  or CIPs  that means a  need for  more GF                                                                    
     funds, which  means sufficient  increases in  the fees.                                                                    
     Money  deposited into  the Fish  and Game  Fund from  a                                                                    
     conservation pass or  decal can be used  to match state                                                                    
     wildlife grants (SWG) dollars. In  the past SWG dollars                                                                    
     were matched  by state funds  to conduct research  on a                                                                    
     variety of  un-hunted species  and has  been successful                                                                    
     at preempting  ESA listings. Examples  include, yellow-                                                                    
     billed    loons,   black    oyster   catchers,    bats,                                                                    
     [indecipherable],  murrelets, stellar  sea lions.  More                                                                    
     recently  funds  are  being  used  to  study  Southeast                                                                    
     Alaska wolves  to inform a  petition to list  a species                                                                    
     as  threatened  or   endangered  under  the  Endangered                                                                    
     Species Act. Listings of game  or non-game species have                                                                    
     huge implications  for hunting and trapping  as well as                                                                    
     for  mineral and  well exploration  and extraction  and                                                                    
     timber    harvesting.     Obviously    huge    economic                                                                    
     Mr. Chairman, the last thing  I want to highlight is, I                                                                    
     had  the privilege  a few  months ago  to serve  on the                                                                    
     governor's transition  team for wildlife. While  we had                                                                    
     a number  of individuals  that came  to the  table with                                                                    
     very different  opinions about things  and backgrounds,                                                                    
     the  thing  was that  there  were  several points  that                                                                    
     there  was consensus  and agreement  on. That  included                                                                    
     the  need  to increase  and  diversify  revenue to  the                                                                    
     Division of Wildlife  Conservation specifically (it was                                                                    
     a wildlife  committee). The conservation pass  that has                                                                    
     been contemplated  is a  way to  do that;  to diversify                                                                    
     and  bring  other users  into  fold  to help  with  the                                                                    
     funding. Also, the group said  that there was a need to                                                                    
     expand and enhance  intensive management. Specifically,                                                                    
     expand  intensive  management   aspects  not  just  for                                                                    
     predator  control, but  for habitat  assessment and  to                                                                    
     look  at the  predator/prey relationships  that are  so                                                                    
     important to that whole  program. That's what intensive                                                                    
     management entails.  That's where the concept  of an IM                                                                    
     surcharge,  or a  wildlife  conservation surcharge,  or                                                                    
     something  to  that  effect  could  be  very  valuable.                                                                    
     That's  the reason  for its  inclusion in  some of  the                                                                    
     discussions  that have  occurred  relative  to the  fee                                                                    
     increases.  Mr. Chairman  and committee  members, thank                                                                    
     you for the opportunity to offer testimony.                                                                                
3:31:12 PM                                                                                                                    
THOR  STACEY,  ALASKA   PROFESSIONAL  HUNTERS'  ASSOCIATION,                                                                    
JUNEAU,  shared  information   about  the  association  that                                                                    
represented hunting  guides in Alaska. He  communicated that                                                                    
the   state's   hunting    guiding   industry   brought   in                                                                    
approximately  $80 million  per year;  half of  the economic                                                                    
effects  were   felt  in  rural  Alaska.   He  relayed  that                                                                    
according to a  recent McDowell Group report,  89 percent of                                                                    
Alaska's  active  hunting   guides  were  Alaska  residents;                                                                    
however, 95-plus  percent of  clients were  nonresidents. He                                                                    
stated that  as part  of the  coalition of  sporting groups,                                                                    
the  association was  comfortable supporting  a 100  percent                                                                    
increase   in   nonresident   hunter   license   and   tags.                                                                    
Additionally, the association  was comfortable supporting or                                                                    
slightly  exceeding  the  inflation  rate  from  1993  until                                                                    
present.  He explained  that guides  had to  buy a  resident                                                                    
hunting and  professional hunting license  biannually. There                                                                    
were two primary  concepts at the core  that the association                                                                    
participated in  continuously, including  federal overreach.                                                                    
He stated that without an  adequately funded DFG and without                                                                    
the ability to  exert the association's role  as stewards of                                                                    
Alaska's  resources,  land,  and  animals,  the  state  fell                                                                    
victim to  federal encroachment.  He addressed  that without                                                                    
the ability to self-fund  wildlife programs, the guides were                                                                    
at  the  mercy  of  other factors  that  contribute  to  the                                                                    
general fund,  such as oil taxation.  The association wanted                                                                    
good, sound  wildlife management  to continue  regardless of                                                                    
oil flow and pricing. He  stated that by increasing the fees                                                                    
to the higher  amount, sportsmen had the  ability to isolate                                                                    
the  state's programs  from the  vagaries of  oil production                                                                    
and price.                                                                                                                      
3:33:56 PM                                                                                                                    
AL BARRETT, SELF,  FAIRBANKS (via teleconference), testified                                                                    
in  opposition  to  the  current version  of  the  bill.  He                                                                    
addressed what  had been communicated about  the CS earlier.                                                                    
He had  heard that page 4,  Section 10 would be  the current                                                                    
proposal;  however, page  5  included  language about  gross                                                                    
income of less than $29,800. He  stated that it had been put                                                                    
on the  record that  some of the  language would  be removed                                                                    
from the bill. He asked if his assessment was correct.                                                                          
Vice-Chair  Saddler  asked for  Mr.  Barrett  to repeat  the                                                                    
question.  Mr.  Barrett believed  it  had  been put  on  the                                                                    
record that Section 10 would be amended by Section 11.                                                                          
JOSHUA BANKS, STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE DAVE TALERICO, believed                                                                    
there  may  have  been  a drafting  error.  He  relayed  the                                                                    
sponsor's intent  to use the  language under Section  10. He                                                                    
thought a conceptual amendment may be necessary.                                                                                
Vice-Chair   Saddler  asked   for   verification  that   the                                                                    
sponsor's  intent was  to have  the language  in Section  10                                                                    
remain. Mr. Banks replied in the affirmative.                                                                                   
Mr.  Barrett was  glad the  issue  had been  cleared up.  He                                                                    
shared  that he  had  only hunted  outside  of Alaska  once;                                                                    
therefore,  he  did  not know  about  the  affordability  of                                                                    
hunting in  other locations. He  shared that his  income was                                                                    
very  limited,  but   he  had  looked  at   the  concept  of                                                                    
increasing licensing fees  for the past couple  of years. He                                                                    
believed many nongovernmental  organizations and legislators                                                                    
had looked at  the 50 or so licenses sold  in the state with                                                                    
blinders  on. He  discussed that  there  were many  licenses                                                                    
sold  for  $5  or  less (e.g.  waterfowl,  low  income,  and                                                                    
drawing  hunts). He  continued that  it cost  the department                                                                    
approximately  $2 just  to issue  and produce  the licenses,                                                                    
which was  only a net of  $3. He communicated that  the cost                                                                    
of most  drawing hunts was  between $5 and $10.  He stressed                                                                    
that  licenses were  too cheap.  He provided  examples about                                                                    
how to  increase funds  by almost  $1 million.  He suggested                                                                    
combining  the 3,  7, and  14-day  nonresident licenses.  He                                                                    
believed  revenue   could  be  increased  by   $513,000.  He                                                                    
discussed  a similar  strategy with  the  king salmon  stamp                                                                    
that  could generate  $465,000. He  believed the  low income                                                                    
should  be  reconsidered;  it  was  a $5  that  cost  $2  to                                                                    
produce. He believed  a $10 to $20 increase  in the specific                                                                    
license would be feasible.                                                                                                      
3:40:23 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE TINKER, SELF, ESTHER  (via teleconference), shared that                                                                    
he had  retired from  a 25-year guiding  career in  2000 and                                                                    
had been  a member of  the Fairbanks Advisory  Committee for                                                                    
over  25  years.  He  relayed   that  he  and  most  of  his                                                                    
colleagues supported raising license  and tag fees. However,                                                                    
he  believed there  were some  black  holes. He  recommended                                                                    
using it as an opportunity  for other changes and looking at                                                                    
the  whole picture.  He applauded  Representative Talerico's                                                                    
efforts;  however, he  believed  there  were some  important                                                                    
focus  issues. For  example,  he stated  a  change would  be                                                                    
needed  in AS  16.05.130(d) in  order to  keep the  concepts                                                                    
that Mr.  Somerville and Mr. Larson  discussed. He explained                                                                    
that  currently there  was a  requirement that  license fees                                                                    
directly benefitted the user.  The legislation impacted over                                                                    
250,000  Alaskan   license  purchasers  and   the  coalition                                                                    
represented  approximately  4  percent of  that  number.  He                                                                    
implored the  committee to make  some room for the  other 96                                                                    
percent  of  users.  For  example,   many  of  the  advisory                                                                    
committees  had been  waiting  for the  bill  to settle.  He                                                                    
spoke  to the  concept of  making DFG  healthy. He  reasoned                                                                    
that  a  nonresident  musk  ox tag  could  be  increased  to                                                                    
$35,000 because the  state had not sold one  in eight years.                                                                    
He continued  that there were  many other types  of licenses                                                                    
or  tags that  the state  only sold  10 to  20 per  year. He                                                                    
believed  it was  important to  determine how  many of  each                                                                    
license  sold before  increasing  a fee  by  100 percent  or                                                                    
other.  He believed  the bill  should  provide the  starting                                                                    
point  for the  discussion. He  noted that  there were  many                                                                    
other ways to  raise money without making  huge increases to                                                                    
fees.  He  stated  that  currently   most  of  the  trapping                                                                    
licenses sold were  sold as part of  combinations. He stated                                                                    
that  when the  combination  tag fee  was  increased to  the                                                                    
point where  a person could  save the money they  would have                                                                    
put  into  supporting trapping  by  paying  for hunting  and                                                                    
fishing,  the state  would lose  the  money. He  appreciated                                                                    
Representatives Talerico, Munoz, and  Keller for putting the                                                                    
bill forward.                                                                                                                   
3:45:04 PM                                                                                                                    
WAYNE KUBAT,  SELF, WASILLA  (via teleconference),  spoke in                                                                    
support of the bill. He read from a statement:                                                                                  
     I have lived  year-round in Alaska for 39  years, 31 in                                                                    
     the Mat-Su Valley. I became  a registered guide in 1986                                                                    
     and  started  my own  guide  business  that same  year.                                                                    
     Almost all of the money  my clients pay for their hunts                                                                    
     is  new money  to Alaska  and stays  here. License  fee                                                                    
     increases  will  always  be  a  tough  sell,  but  with                                                                    
     falling oil revenues I hope  you will move this bill on                                                                    
     with sufficient  increases to adequately  fund Alaska's                                                                    
     wildlife management into the  future. The $10 intensive                                                                    
     management surcharge is a  great idea. I'm disappointed                                                                    
     not  to  see  it  in this  final  draft.  The  wildlife                                                                    
     initiatives  of the  90s  stop  same-day airborne  wolf                                                                    
     hunting and moose  populations plummeted throughout the                                                                    
     state. General  moose seasons where I  guide closed for                                                                    
     several years.  Rural residents of Skwentna  had to eat                                                                    
     black  bear  meat  instead of  moose.  I'm  a  resident                                                                    
     hunter  too. Even  if resident  licenses  double a  12-                                                                    
     month license to  hunt multiple species of  some of the                                                                    
     world premiere  big game animals  will still  cost less                                                                    
     than  a   20  count   box  of  338   Winchester  Magnum                                                                    
     ammunition.  What  a  bargain. As  a  longtime  Alaskan                                                                    
     guide I  support the concept  of a minor  percentage of                                                                    
     nonresident  hunters paying  the bulk  of our  wildlife                                                                    
     management.  I think  Alaska's  wildlife and  residents                                                                    
     benefit from this arrangement. I can live with                                                                             
     increasing nonresident tag fees even up to 100 percent                                                                     
     if it results in effective game management. Thank you.                                                                     
3:46:48 PM                                                                                                                    
GARY  MCCARTHY, SELF,  CHUGIAK (via  teleconference), shared                                                                    
that he  had moved to Alaska  in 1972 in pursuit  of hunting                                                                    
and  fishing. He  supported increasing  the  fees above  the                                                                    
figures in  the CS. As  a sheep  hunter, he was  saddened to                                                                    
see the number  and quality of the sheep  declining over the                                                                    
years. He  stated that the  department was reluctant  to act                                                                    
on  many proposals  put  forward in  the  past year  because                                                                    
there was not  adequate scientific data to  support what was                                                                    
occurring  with the  state's  sheep  populations. He  stated                                                                    
that following  the crash  in oil prices  in the  late 1980s                                                                    
almost all  sheep studies had been  eliminated. He continued                                                                    
that fortunately because of  federal Pittman Robertson funds                                                                    
the  studies had  picked up  in the  past several  years. He                                                                    
hated  to see  the  money  go away  and  to have  inadequate                                                                    
wildlife  management just  because the  information was  not                                                                    
3:48:31 PM                                                                                                                    
DICK ROHRER, SELF, KODIAK  (via teleconference), shared that                                                                    
he  had  moved to  Alaska  50  years  earlier. He  spoke  in                                                                    
support of the previous  testimony provided to the committee                                                                    
by coalition  members. He believed  resident fees  should be                                                                    
higher  than those  listed  in  the current  CS.  He had  no                                                                    
hesitation to pay  higher fees. He thought it  was good idea                                                                    
to look  at the senior  license every three years.  He noted                                                                    
that if the  legislature chose to eliminate  the free senior                                                                    
license he would not be  concerned. His greatest concern was                                                                    
federal overreach.  He stated that  if there was  not enough                                                                    
money to properly fund management  statewide he could assure                                                                    
that federal agencies would take over management.                                                                               
3:50:25 PM                                                                                                                    
SAM ROHRER,  SELF, KODIAK (via teleconference),  shared that                                                                    
he had  a guiding  license and was  president of  the Alaska                                                                    
Professional Hunters'  Association. He  agreed with  most of                                                                    
the  testimony  provided  during  the  present  meeting.  He                                                                    
stated that there had not  been an increase to the licensing                                                                    
fee since 1993,  which he believed was long  overdue. He did                                                                    
not believe the current  CS increased the fees sufficiently.                                                                    
He  strongly  encouraged  the  idea  of  the  $10  intensive                                                                    
management  surcharge  on  all  hunting  licenses  sold.  He                                                                    
stressed that  the current $5 increase  for resident hunting                                                                    
licenses  was   insufficient.  He  believed   a  substantive                                                                    
increase was needed and recommended  an increase of at least                                                                    
$15. He  stated that  a resident license  for $40  was still                                                                    
less than a box of ammunition; it was affordable.                                                                               
3:52:16 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  CRAWFORD,  SAFARI  CLUB INTERNATIONAL,  SOLDOTNA  (via                                                                    
teleconference), believed the license  fees in the CS should                                                                    
be  increased.  He agreed  with  testimony  provided by  Mr.                                                                    
Somerville  and  Mr. Grasser.  He  opined  that the  Pittman                                                                    
Robertson funds  should not be  left on the table.  He spoke                                                                    
against  federal overreach.  He  believed DFG  needed to  be                                                                    
kept informed.  He thought that  most hunters  and fishermen                                                                    
in the  state were more  than willing  to pay their  way. He                                                                    
communicated  that   a  goat,   sheep,  or  moose   tag  for                                                                    
nonresidents in Washington State was  $1,652, a deer tag was                                                                    
$531,  a  small game  tag  was  $183, a  freshwater  fishing                                                                    
license was $84.50, a saltwater  license was $35, and so on.                                                                    
He noted that  Montana and Idaho also had  much higher fees.                                                                    
He believed nonresident  hunters should help to  pay for the                                                                    
management of Alaska's wildlife and fish resources.                                                                             
3:54:23 PM                                                                                                                    
KEITH  BAXTER,  KENAI   RIVER  SPECIAL  MANAGEMENT  ADVISORY                                                                    
BOARD,   SOLDOTNA  (via   teleconference),  encouraged   the                                                                    
committee to include a sockeye  stamp in the bill. He stated                                                                    
that  currently  the  bill  proposed  prudent  increases  to                                                                    
existing license  fees and the board  believed the inclusion                                                                    
of  a sockeye  stamp would  also  be a  prudent measure.  He                                                                    
shared that in recent years  many anglers who had previously                                                                    
targeted king  salmon on the  Kenai River had  shifted their                                                                    
focus to  sockeye. He  stated that  the growing  interest in                                                                    
the  sockeye  fishery  presented  management,  habitat,  and                                                                    
enforcement challenges that required  funding to address. He                                                                    
reasoned that a statewide sockeye  stamp would go a long way                                                                    
towards  providing   the  needed  funding  to   address  the                                                                    
challenges.  The board  believed that  adequate funding  for                                                                    
the   rehabilitation,   enhancement,  and   development   of                                                                    
Alaska's sport and personal-use  fisheries were essential to                                                                    
ensure their sustained health going  forward. He believed it                                                                    
was imperative  that the vitality of  Alaska's fisheries was                                                                    
not  jeopardized   by  fiscal   uncertainty  in   its  state                                                                    
government. The  board hoped that a  statewide sockeye stamp                                                                    
modeled  closely  after  the existing  chinook  stamp  would                                                                    
provide  a  secure  source  of  funding  for  the  essential                                                                    
fisheries programs well into the future.                                                                                        
3:55:40 PM                                                                                                                    
NANCY HILLSTRAND,  SELF, HOMER (via  teleconference), shared                                                                    
that  she was  the owner  of a  seafood processing  plant in                                                                    
Homer; the business had been  a fisheries corporation for 51                                                                    
years  and  it paid  into  the  federal Dingle  Johnson  and                                                                    
Pittman  Robertson  funds.  She  relayed that  she  did  not                                                                    
harvest wildlife or fish. She  proposed a license for people                                                                    
not harvesting wildlife of around  $5. She explained that it                                                                    
was a matter  of trying to bring in funds  from out of state                                                                    
visitors  and for  Alaskan wildlife  viewers. She  discussed                                                                    
that  viewers brought  $231 million  in tax  revenue to  the                                                                    
state,  representing   double  the  amount  brought   in  by                                                                    
harvesters. She  supported bringing  in the group  of people                                                                    
to diversify and help to  match the Pittman Robertson funds.                                                                    
She believed the state was  missing a huge segment of income                                                                    
derived  from  people that  utilize  wildlife,  but did  not                                                                    
harvest   them.   She   continued   that   individuals   who                                                                    
photographed animals, made money,  and guided people to view                                                                    
wildlife did not  pay anything into the  coffers. She stated                                                                    
that  there were  12,000  non-game  species. She  elaborated                                                                    
that  the wildlife  action plans  and state  wildlife grants                                                                    
needed matching  funds. She  stated that  if there  was some                                                                    
way to keep  common species common and  prevent animals from                                                                    
reaching endangered status, the  state would prevent federal                                                                    
oversight. She  relayed that there  were 18  million birders                                                                    
in the U.S.  who traveled. She stated  that wildlife viewers                                                                    
brought  $2.7 billion  in spending  to Alaska.  She reasoned                                                                    
the  visitors  could pay  a  $5  license  fee. She  did  not                                                                    
believe wildlife  viewers understood  how it  worked because                                                                    
they had never  been given the opportunity  to contribute to                                                                    
wildlife management.  She did not believe  the license would                                                                    
cost  the department  anything. She  reiterated her  support                                                                    
for a viewer license and  a wildlife conservation decal. She                                                                    
agreed  that  the  state currently  had  "bargain  basement"                                                                    
license fees that needed to  be increased. She supported the                                                                    
idea of the inclusion of a sockeye stamp in the bill.                                                                           
Representative  Wilson  queried  how  to charge  a  tax  for                                                                    
animal viewing.  She wondered  if it  would include  a tour-                                                                    
type setting.  She asked if  any other states had  a similar                                                                    
Ms. Hillstrand replied that many  other states had different                                                                    
programs  such  as  license plates,  badges,  licenses,  and                                                                    
decals. She  stated that  the primary  point was  her belief                                                                    
that  the  state  should  market  to  the  individuals.  She                                                                    
believed the  state could  figure out a  way to  attach some                                                                    
sort of  fee to  the numerous viewers  brought to  Alaska by                                                                    
the cruise ship industry.                                                                                                       
Vice-Chair  Saddler relayed  that  public  testimony on  the                                                                    
bill would be continued on  April 13, 2015. He discussed the                                                                    
schedule for the following day.                                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Workdraft CSHB15 4-8-2015.pdf HFIN 4/10/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 15
HB 137 CS WORKDRAFT FIN G Version.PDF HFIN 4/10/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 137
HB 176 CS WORKDRAFT E version.pdf HFIN 4/10/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 176
HB 176 Legal Opinion.pdf HFIN 4/10/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 176
HB 176 Letters.pdf HFIN 4/10/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 176
HB 176 Sponsor Statement.pdf HFIN 4/10/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 176
HB 137 Support letter.pdf HFIN 4/10/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 137
HB 15 Amendment #1.pdf HFIN 4/10/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 15
HB 137 Additional Info Sommerville.pdf HFIN 4/10/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 137