Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

02/09/2017 10:00 AM House FISHERIES

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10:03:50 AM Start
10:04:59 AM HB87
10:57:29 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
         HB 87-CONFLICT OF INTEREST: BD FISHERIES/GAME                                                                      
10:04:59 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  87, "An Act relating to  participation in matters                                                               
before  the Board  of  Fisheries and  the Board  of  Game by  the                                                               
members of the respective boards;  and providing for an effective                                                               
10:05:48 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT  moved to adopt the  committee substitute                                                               
(CS), labeled 30-LS0376\U, Bruce/Bullard,  2/9/17, as the working                                                               
10:06:03 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES objected for discussion.                                                                                           
10:06:18 AM                                                                                                                   
REID HARRIS,  Staff, Representative  Louise Stutes,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  presented the  proposed  committee substitute  (CS)                                                               
for HB 87,  Version U, directing attention to  the handout issued                                                               
from the chair's office labeled,  "Summary of Changes - Version A                                                               
to  Version  U," and  paraphrasing  from  the prepared  language,                                                               
which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                     
     Section 1. (g)                                                                                                             
     Eliminates reference to AS 16.05  (Fish and Game Code),                                                                    
     AS  16.40.261   (Salt  water  sport   fishing  operator                                                                    
     license), AS 16.40.271 (Salt  water sport fishing guide                                                                    
     license,  combined  guide/operator license),  AS  16.43                                                                    
     (Regulation of Entry  into Alaska Commercial Fisheries)                                                                    
     and 08.54 (Big Game Guides and Related Occupations).                                                                       
     Changes the  word "conflict" to "personal  or financial                                                                    
     interest" (as defined in AS 39.52.960).                                                                                    
     Defines,  for  the  purposes  of   this  act,  what  an                                                                    
     immediate family  member is.   This  definition differs                                                                    
     from the  definition in 39.52.960, which  also includes                                                                    
     grandparents,  aunts/uncles, parents  or siblings  of a                                                                    
     person's spouse.                                                                                                           
     Sec. 2 is deleted                                                                                                          
     Sec. 3 is deleted                                                                                                          
     Sec. 4 Is deleted                                                                                                          
MR. HARRIS pointed  out that the statutory  definition for family                                                               
members is broad and overly  inclusive for the purpose of serving                                                               
on the board.   The conflicts cause recusals that  may affect the                                                               
process.    The sponsor  seeks  to  redefine family  members  for                                                               
purposes of board participation.                                                                                                
10:08:20 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES withdrew her objection.  Without further objection,                                                                
Version U was before the committee.                                                                                             
10:08:29 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. HARRIS  explained that Version  U allows a  conflicted member                                                               
to deliberate  but refrain from  voting.  He provided  a succinct                                                               
outline  of  the  proposed  legislation,  paraphrasing  from  the                                                               
sponsor statement,  which read  as follows  [original punctuation                                                               
     House  Bill 87  changes the  manner that  the Board  of                                                                    
     Fisheries  and  Board  of Game  function.    It  allows                                                                    
     members to  deliberate on subjects for  which they have                                                                    
     a declared personal or  financial interest according to                                                                    
     AS 39.52, the Ethics Act.                                                                                                  
     Title   39  prohibits   a   member   from  "taking   or                                                                    
     withholding  official  action  in  order  to  affect  a                                                                    
     matter in which the member  has a personal or financial                                                                    
     interest." (AS 39.52.120(b)(4)).   "Official action" is                                                                    
     defined under  the Act to mean  "advice, participation,                                                                    
     or    assistance,    including     for    example,    a                                                                    
     recommendation, decision,  approval, disapproval, vote,                                                                    
     or  other  similar  action,  including  inaction  by  a                                                                    
     public officer."  (AS 39.52.960(14)).                                                                                      
     Currently,  Board members  are  required  to divulge  a                                                                    
     conflict  of interest  if they  or  their families  are                                                                    
     involved  in the  subject being  deliberated  on.   The                                                                    
     conflicted member can then no  longer offer their input                                                                    
     on the process  and cannot vote on the  matter at hand.                                                                    
     This  bill  allows  the   conflicted  member  to  offer                                                                    
     remarks and input, but the  member still cannot vote on                                                                    
     the issue. The member is  also precluded from voting on                                                                    
     whether  they have  a conflict  of interest.   Allowing                                                                    
     members   with  expertise   in  particular   fields  to                                                                    
     deliberate  will  help  the Board  make  more  informed                                                                    
     decisions  and lead  to  stronger fisheries  management                                                                    
10:09:12 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN noted  the  concern  regarding the  broad                                                               
definition for family  members, and asked if this  is in response                                                               
to an existing problem or a proactive consideration.                                                                            
MR.  HARRIS  offered that  expertise  is  lost when  members  are                                                               
required to recuse themselves from  deliberation and voting.  The                                                               
bill  changes  that  scenario  by  narrowing  the  scope  of  the                                                               
definition  for family  members that  could be  ethically invoked                                                               
for  reasons of  personal or  financial interests.   He  deferred                                                               
further comment to Glenn Haight.                                                                                                
10:10:34 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  noted  that  the  proposed  change  in  the                                                               
definition of  family members  will only apply  to this  bill and                                                               
not affect other areas of statute.                                                                                              
MR. HARRIS referred to the CS, page  1, line 12, to point out the                                                               
language  provided  to  define   "immediate  family  member"  for                                                               
purposes of HB 87 and persons  serving on the Board of Fish (BOF)                                                               
or  the Board  of Game  (BOG),  without altering  the ethics  act                                                               
language found in AS 39.52.960.                                                                                                 
MR. HARRIS  pointed out  that the BOF  also manages  personal use                                                               
10:12:12 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  restated his interest in  knowing why the                                                               
bill is necessary.                                                                                                              
GLENN  HAIGHT, Executive  Director, Board  of Fish  (BOF), Boards                                                               
Support Section, Alaska  Department of Fish &  Game (ADF&G), said                                                               
there have  been seven bills  introduced, since 1995,  seeking to                                                               
amend the  ethics act specifically  for the  BOF.  He  offered to                                                               
make available a  record of the ethics recusals that  the BOF has                                                               
experienced over the  last nine years, and  the impacts; produced                                                               
by Jim Marcotte, former Executive Director of the BOF.                                                                          
CHAIR STUTES  interjected that there  is precedent for  this need                                                               
as happened recently at a BOF  meeting, when a member recused and                                                               
the outcome of the issue at hand was affected.                                                                                  
MR. HAIGHT  described what  occurred at  the most  recent finfish                                                               
BOF  meeting, held  in Kodiak.    A member  who did  not fish  or                                                               
benefit directly from the fishery  being discussed, had to recuse                                                               
because of  the participation  of her  ex-husband, from  whom she                                                               
receives money.   Because  of the recusal,  the proposal  did not                                                               
CHAIR STUTES added that the vote  ended three to three, and could                                                               
have  gone either  way had  the  seventh member  been allowed  to                                                               
10:14:51 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  clarified that under  the proposed                                                               
bill, the board member would not have had to recuse.                                                                            
MR. HAIGHT  concurred, and said  HB 87 narrows the  definition of                                                               
family   member  significantly;   designating  immediate   family                                                               
members as  a spouse or  direct dependent.   He said  the recused                                                               
member would  have been able  to participate,  if HB 87  had been                                                               
the governing statute.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  asked  how this  relates  to  the                                                               
Board  of  Game (BOG),  and  whether  the concern  is  comparable                                                               
between the two boards.                                                                                                         
MR. HAIGHT  responded that conflict  doesn't occur with  the same                                                               
frequency at  BOG meetings.   He suggested  that it  only happens                                                               
occasionally, such as when a member  is also an active game guide                                                               
and must recuse on an issue.                                                                                                    
10:17:11 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT  asked for further  information regarding                                                               
the Kodiak recusal situation.                                                                                                   
MR. HAIGHT deferred comment to the Department of Law (DOL).                                                                     
10:18:40 AM                                                                                                                   
SETH  BEAUSANG, Assistant  Attorney  General,  Department of  Law                                                               
(DOL),  offered  that  the  member   had  disclosed  a  financial                                                               
interest with a participant of the fishery being considered.                                                                    
10:19:38 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE   EASTMAN   inquired   about   a   family   member                                                               
participating in a  personal use fishery, and  how the definition                                                               
would apply to that scenario.                                                                                                   
MR. HAIGHT  said personal  use/subsistence fisheries  don't cause                                                               
conflict, as no financial gain is involved.                                                                                     
10:20:49 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES  said that the  BOF and  BOG are governed  under the                                                               
same statutes, thus, both entities are addressed in the bill.                                                                   
10:21:24 AM                                                                                                                   
SAM  COTTEN,  Commissioner,  Alaska  Department of  Fish  &  Game                                                               
(ADF&G), stated  official support for  the proposed CS to  HB 87,                                                               
and said  it addresses an  important issue and serves  to improve                                                               
the  current system,  which  probably,  unnecessarily results  in                                                               
recusals by board members.                                                                                                      
10:22:09 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  asked if, under a  circumstance as mentioned                                                               
today  when a  proposal  failed  due to  a  tie  vote, are  there                                                               
opportunities to bring the same proposal back before the board.                                                                 
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  responded yes, and deferred  further comment                                                               
on regarding procedures for proposal reconsideration.                                                                           
10:23:23 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS noted that  similar bills have been                                                               
proposed by other legislatures, and asked why none have passed.                                                                 
COMMISSIONER COTTEN  said it's an  inviting subject but  it would                                                               
be difficult to know why legislation doesn't get passed.                                                                        
CHAIR  STUTES added  that it  would  be difficult  to comment  on                                                               
bills that aren't available for comparison.                                                                                     
10:25:11 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  asked what conflicting out  situations arise                                                               
at BOG  meetings, other than the  recusal of an active  guide, as                                                               
previously mentioned.  She asked  specifically about remote lodge                                                               
KRISTY TIBBLES, Executive Director,  Board of Game (BOG) reported                                                               
that financial  conflicts haven't occurred but  spousal conflicts                                                               
have  arisen.   She recounted  an  instance of  a board  member's                                                               
spouse, who  served on  an advisory committee  which had  taken a                                                               
vote on an active proposal that  was coming before the board; the                                                               
member recused.  Due to  the potential for financial conflict, if                                                               
a proposal was before the BOG  that impacted an owner of a remote                                                               
lodge, it would represent a conflict.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  inquired whether  there is  a conflict  if a                                                               
BOG member is also a member of a hunting organization.                                                                          
MS. TIBBLES replied  that a conflict wouldn't exist  if the board                                                               
member is  in the general  membership of an organization,  but if                                                               
they are an officer in the  organization and sit on its board, it                                                               
would represent a conflict.                                                                                                     
10:28:26 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  asked how  many board members  are seated                                                               
on the BOG.                                                                                                                     
MS. TIBBLES answered seven.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN queried  what the  downside would  be for                                                               
observing  similar rules  as the  legislative committee,  where a                                                               
member discloses the conflict but is not prevented from voting.                                                                 
MS.  TIBBLES  answered,  "There's   a  potential  that  something                                                               
carries or fails that wouldn't have otherwise had that action."                                                                 
CHAIR STUTES opened public testimony.                                                                                           
10:30:06 AM                                                                                                                   
CLAY KOPLIN,  Mayor, City  of Cordova, stated  support for  HB 87                                                               
and said Cordova  depends largely on the  fishing industry, which                                                               
is  extremely active  and  productive for  a  brief, three  month                                                               
period.   It is difficult to  find someone to serve  on the board                                                               
due   to  the   time  commitment   involved  and   concerns  that                                                               
participation would be restricted due  to possible conflicts.  It                                                               
is a problem for ensuring that  the voice of experience and those                                                               
who work in  the industry are heard.  The  bill could rectify the                                                               
situation and  bring voices  to the  table that  otherwise aren't                                                               
heard,  he  said; voices  that  are  close  to what  is  actually                                                               
10:33:36 AM                                                                                                                   
MATT ALWARD,  Fisherman stated support  for HB 87 and  echoed the                                                               
concern that  well vetted, appointed  people, committing  a month                                                               
of their  time, must  sit out  of deliberations  and voting.   He                                                               
predicted that the  bill will enrich the board  process and bring                                                               
better regulation overall.                                                                                                      
10:34:48 AM                                                                                                                   
MALCOLM  MILNE, President,  North  Pacific Fisheries  Association                                                               
(NPFA),  stated  official support  for  HB  87 and  said  finding                                                               
qualified members  to serve on  the board can be  challenging and                                                               
allowing  conflicted members  to  deliberate on  issues will  add                                                               
expertise,  and make  for more  robust discussions  that lead  to                                                               
better decisions.                                                                                                               
10:36:21 AM                                                                                                                   
JOHN  MCCOMBS stated  support  for HB  87 and  said  it's a  good                                                               
start.    Members  who  have  attended  the  Kenai  Classic  have                                                               
received  gifts,  which  should  be disclosed  to  ensure  ethics                                                               
compliance, he  opined.  The  board has  not met in  Soldotna for                                                               
seventeen  years, and  it needs  to  be included  in the  meeting                                                               
locale  rotation.   Other  improvements  could  also be  made  to                                                               
improve the public, board process, he finished.                                                                                 
10:37:39 AM                                                                                                                   
STEVE VANEK stated  support for HB 87 and said  as a layman board                                                               
it's  necessary   to  allow  participation,   at  least   in  the                                                               
deliberation process.   The non-commercial fishermen  that sit on                                                               
the  board   don't  get  conflicted  out,   only  the  commercial                                                               
operator.   He  stressed the  need to  allow all  the members  to                                                               
deliberate equally on issues.                                                                                                   
10:40:10 AM                                                                                                                   
GERRY  MCCUNE,  Representative,  United Fishermen  Alaska  (UFA),                                                               
Cordova District  Fishermen United,  stated official  support for                                                               
HB 87  and offered that  if he were serving  on the BOF  today he                                                               
would be conflicted  out and end up sitting in  the audience. The                                                               
fifty  years of  experience  and expertise  that  he could  share                                                               
would be  of no benefit at  the meeting.  He  described incidents                                                               
of past  members who  were recused due  to situations  that might                                                               
have  been  considered  minimal.   Changing  the  definition,  as                                                               
proposed, will correct a long standing problem, he finished.                                                                    
10:41:59 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE TARR confirmed  that, even with the  passage of HB
87, if  a board member  was being unethical, other  statute could                                                               
be applied.                                                                                                                     
MR.  MCCUNE  responded  that  any board  member  could  bring  an                                                               
ethical  challenge for  consideration.   Disclosures are  usually                                                               
provided  beforehand but  challenges are  also brought  up during                                                               
10:43:43 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT  noted the  legal services  memorandum in                                                               
the committee packet, and asked  who makes the determination that                                                               
a conflict exists.                                                                                                              
CHAIR  STUTES  responded  that  it  is the  purview  of  the  BOF                                                               
10:44:42 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  FANSLER  recalled  that  there  is  also  a  bill                                                               
seeking  to expand  the board  from  seven to  nine members,  and                                                               
asked, if adopted, would that influence UFA support for HB 87.                                                                  
MR.  MCCUNE answered  that  UFA does  not  support expanding  the                                                               
board  until  the  conflict  issue  is  solved.    The  financial                                                               
disclosure requirement  and being  conflicted out  prohibits many                                                               
possible members  from seeking  appointment.   There would  be no                                                               
need to expand the board size if conflict was still a problem.                                                                  
10:47:25 AM                                                                                                                   
ROD  ARNO, Executive  Director,  Alaska  Outdoor Council,  stated                                                               
opposition to HB 87 and said  he has not attended a meeting where                                                               
the person  conflicted out hasn't  had an opportunity  to express                                                               
their opinion  and had their input  be part of the  process.  The                                                               
bill is not  necessary, nor is it beneficial to  the resource, he                                                               
10:49:47 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  asked to what extent  a conflicted                                                               
member is able  to testify at the table, and  are they restricted                                                               
to three minutes the same as a member of the public.                                                                            
MR. ARNO  answered that on  the BOG  there is no  limitation, but                                                               
the BOF follows a different committee process.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  queried whether applying  the bill                                                               
only to the BOF would change Mr. Arno's stance of opposition.                                                                   
MR.  ARNO  answered  that  the   concern  remains  the  same  and                                                               
suggested that the public would be leery to that type of action.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  recalled the  previously described                                                               
scenario  with the  ex-spouse situation,  causing  the member  to                                                               
recuse, and  asked whether allowing  that member  to participate,                                                               
under  the  described  circumstances,   would  have  clouded  the                                                               
process or impair the public's faith.                                                                                           
MR. ARNO opined that it would have clouded the process.                                                                         
10:52:45 AM                                                                                                                   
RICHARD  DAVIS,  Representative, Seafood  Producers  Cooperative,                                                               
stated support for  HB 87 and said the  producers cooperative has                                                               
sought this type of legislation  for three decades.  Whenever the                                                               
BOF  meets,   cooperative  members   always  attend   to  provide                                                               
testimony.   The  existing protocol  makes it  difficult to  find                                                               
qualified, dedicated people willing to  serve on the BOF and this                                                               
bill provides hope  to change that scenario.  It  is an essential                                                               
component for  continuing to responsibly manage  the fisheries of                                                               
the state, he finished.                                                                                                         
CHAIR STUTES closed public testimony.                                                                                           
10:54:55 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS commented that  the bill appears to                                                               
be  a common  sense improvement  to the  current procedures.   He                                                               
opined that the testimony is  compelling, regarding the faint and                                                               
indirect relationships  that impair  a member's  participation on                                                               
the BOF in a way that harms the overall dialogue.                                                                               
10:55:48 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN referred  to the portion of  the bill that                                                               
mentions a  personal or financial  interest, and asked  whether a                                                               
member, or family member, who  actively participates or advocates                                                               
for a personal use fishery, "be caught up in this new language."                                                                
MR.  BEAUSANG responded  that the  terms "personal  interest" and                                                               
"financial   interest"  are   defined  under   the  ethics   act.                                                               
Participation  in  a  personal  use  fishery  would  not  involve                                                               
financial interest, he opined, and pointed out that there is no                                                                 
history of a member disclosing participation in a personal use                                                                  
fishery and being found in conflict.                                                                                            
10:57:29 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STUTES thanked the participants and announced HB 87 as                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB087 Sponsor Statement 2.7.17.pdf HFSH 2/9/2017 10:00:00 AM
HRES 3/14/2017 3:00:00 PM
HRES 3/20/2017 7:00:00 PM
HB 87
HB087 ver U.pdf HFSH 2/9/2017 10:00:00 AM
HB 87
HB087 ver A.PDF HFSH 2/9/2017 10:00:00 AM
HRES 3/20/2017 7:00:00 PM
HB 87
HB087 Summary of Changes A to U 2.9.17.pdf HFSH 2/9/2017 10:00:00 AM
HB 87
HB087 Fiscal Note DFG-BBS-01-31-2017.pdf HFSH 2/9/2017 10:00:00 AM
HRES 3/13/2017 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/20/2017 7:00:00 PM
HB 87
HB087 Supporting Document BOF BOG Information.pdf HFSH 2/9/2017 10:00:00 AM
HRES 3/13/2017 1:00:00 PM
HB 87
HB087 Supporting Document Historic Bills.pdf HFSH 2/9/2017 10:00:00 AM
HRES 3/13/2017 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/20/2017 7:00:00 PM
HB 87
HB087 Support ATA.pdf HFSH 2/9/2017 10:00:00 AM
HRES 3/13/2017 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/14/2017 3:00:00 PM
HRES 3/20/2017 7:00:00 PM
HB 87
HB087 Support SEAFA.pdf HFSH 2/9/2017 10:00:00 AM
HRES 3/14/2017 3:00:00 PM
HRES 3/20/2017 7:00:00 PM
HB 87
HB087 ver U Legal Memo.pdf HFSH 2/9/2017 10:00:00 AM
HB 87