Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

02/01/2018 01:00 PM TRANSPORTATION

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Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited/Public> --
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Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited/Public> --
           HB 263-TRANSPORTATION SERVICES FOR HUNTERS                                                                       
2:34:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR WOOL  announced that  the final  order of business  would                                                              
be  HOUSE BILL  NO.  263, "An  Act  exempting  certain water  taxi                                                              
operators from  regulation as transportation  services by  the Big                                                              
Game Commercial  Services  Board; and providing  for an  effective                                                              
2:35:26 PM                                                                                                                    
JAYME JONES, Staff, Representative Gary Knopp, Alaska State                                                                     
Legislature, paraphrased from a prepared sponsor statement,                                                                     
which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                          
     AS 08.54.790  exempts certain air taxis' from  having to                                                                   
     obtain a  transporter permit  from Alaska Department  of                                                                   
     commerce,  community,   and  economic  development   if;                                                                   
     carrying  big   game  hunters  is  only   an  incidental                                                                   
     portion of  their business; if  they do not  charge more                                                                   
     than  the  usual  tariff  or charter  rate  and  do  not                                                                   
     advertise  transportation services  or big game  hunting                                                                   
     services to the public.                                                                                                    
     [House  Bill]  263  would  add  licensed  water  taxis',                                                                   
     meeting  the  current  stipulations  of air  taxis',  to                                                                   
     this  exemption.   According  to  big   game  commercial                                                                   
     services,   in  the   2017  calendar   year  only   nine                                                                   
     transporter permits  were issued statewide by  DCCED. To                                                                   
     operate as a  water taxi, you must also  comply with the                                                                   
     Untied  [sic] States  Coast  Guard and  all other  state                                                                   
     licensing regulations.                                                                                                     
     This  exemption would  allow  individuals  to travel  to                                                                   
     the  hunting grounds  by their  choice of  water or  air                                                                   
     taxi.  Currently water taxi  operators incur  additional                                                                   
     burden and expense  of obtaining another permit  that is                                                                   
     not  required by  the exempt  air taxi  operators.   The                                                                   
     inclusion  of  the  water   taxi  operators  levels  the                                                                   
         playing field for both means of transportation                                                                         
     providing "incidental" services to hunters.                                                                                
2:37:36 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARY   KNOPP,  Alaska  State   Legislature,  prime                                                              
sponsor of HB 263,  stated that the legislators know  there are no                                                              
simple bills,  and although some  have expressed concerns,  he has                                                              
found substantial  support for the bill.   He said that  this bill                                                              
addresses  an issue  of equality  for  water taxi  operators.   An                                                              
exemption in  statute already existed  for air taxi  operators and                                                              
this  bill, HB  263, would  expand  that exemption  to water  taxi                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP reported  that these  statutes were  amended                                                              
about  10 years  ago.    He has  spoken  to  some prior  Big  Game                                                              
Commercial  Services  Board  (BGCSB)   members  about  water  taxi                                                              
operators and they  advised him that the topic of  water taxis did                                                              
not arise.   He  introduced  the bill  at the request  of a  water                                                              
taxi  operator, after  reviewing  the statutes  pertaining to  air                                                              
taxis, he said.                                                                                                                 
2:39:27 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STUTES stated that  she has  received several  concerns.                                                              
She related her  understanding that with an air  taxi service, the                                                              
plane flies in,  drops off hunters, and flies out.   She has heard                                                              
concern  expressed  that water  taxi  services bring  in  hunters,                                                              
drop them  off, then the  plane stays in  the area, and  the pilot                                                              
could conceivably  scout around  and/or move hunters,  effectively                                                              
providing guiding services without a license.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  responded by  saying that currently  a water                                                              
taxi  operator  with transporter  permits  could  violate  guiding                                                              
laws.  He characterized  the water taxi services  as incidental to                                                              
the  operators'  business.    He  acknowledged  that  anything  is                                                              
possible,  but he  did  not think  it  was too  big  of an  issue.                                                              
Currently,  only  140  transporter  licenses  are  issued  in  the                                                              
state; however,  the department was unable to  distinguish between                                                              
transporters  using  airplanes  and  those using  other  types  of                                                              
vehicles.   He anticipated  that  this bill was  likely to  affect                                                              
Southeast  Alaska,   Kodiak,  and  perhaps   Southcentral  Alaska.                                                              
Currently,  the Alaska  Marine  Highway System  (AMHS)  transports                                                              
many hunters  to areas  such as  Kodiak.   He reiterated  that the                                                              
type of activity  Representative Stutes mentioned  was outside the                                                              
2:42:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STUTES  acknowledged that  some of the concern  expressed                                                              
pertained  to black  bear  populations  in Southeast  Alaska  that                                                              
could be  directly impacted by hunters,  who could easily  move to                                                              
the game  with access  to air  taxis.   She remarked that  reduced                                                              
state funding translates into [little or] no enforcement.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  reiterated that  the  Chair  of the  Alaska                                                              
Board  of Game  (BOG) [Ted  Spraker], among  others he  contacted,                                                              
did not  anticipate any increased  hunting pressure.   He recalled                                                              
that  in recent  years the  bag limit  for black  bears was  five,                                                              
although  it may recently  have  been reduced  to three bears  per                                                              
calendar year.   He offered his  belief that water  taxi operators                                                              
would  self-regulate in  terms of  numbers of  hunters.  Thus,  he                                                              
did  not anticipate  this change  would result  in any  additional                                                              
hunting pressure.   He reiterated that [Mr. Spraker,  Chair, Board                                                              
of  Game] said  the board  could  use permits  or  other means  to                                                              
limit over harvesting.                                                                                                          
2:44:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN, referring  to page  2 [lines  5-14,  to AS                                                              
08.54.790(12)(B),  sub-subparagraph's  (i) and  (ii)]  of HB  163,                                                              
which outline  the two  prohibitions for  water taxi operators  in                                                              
the bill.   Sub-subparagraph  (ii) would  prohibit the  water taxi                                                              
operator from  advertising, for  big game services,  which relates                                                              
to  Representative  Stute's  concern.    Second,  sub-subparagraph                                                              
(ii)  does  not  allow  the  water   taxi  operator  to  advertise                                                              
transportation  services.  He  related that  in his experience  he                                                              
has  never   seen  a   service  that   did  not  advertise   their                                                              
transportation services.   He offered  his belief that  would seem                                                              
to disqualify all water taxi operators.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  recalled that at  the time the  existing law                                                              
was   written,  the   legislature  provided   this  exemption   to                                                              
recognize  some air carriers  transported  equipment.  He  offered                                                              
his  belief  that  the  legislature  did  not  "cross  the  lines"                                                              
between  those who  take  a larger  percentage  of their  business                                                              
from  transporter services  without being  guide-outfitters.   The                                                              
exemption states  that [an air  taxi] service cannot  advertise as                                                              
a transporter  or charge  a premium,  but the  key was  that these                                                              
services were "incidental" to their businesses.                                                                                 
2:46:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN said  he might be  misreading the  statute;                                                              
however, it  seemed that if  a transportation business  advertises                                                              
that  it  provides  transportation   services  in  Prince  William                                                              
Sound,  the  water  taxi  operator  would  be  exempted  from  the                                                              
statute and not  be able to provide services to  hunters since the                                                              
operator  advertises   transportation  services.     He   said  he                                                              
understood  why advertising  big game services  would exclude  air                                                              
and water  taxi operators from  transporting hunters;  however, he                                                              
did  not  understand why  transportation  services  would  exclude                                                              
2:48:11 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP,  referring  to  sub-subparagraph  (ii),  on                                                              
page  2,  line  9-11,  of  HB  263,   directed  attention  to  the                                                              
definition  of  "advertise,"  which   read  [original  punctuation                                                              
     ...  "advertise" means  soliciting big  game hunters  to                                                                   
     be  customers   of  an  air  taxi  operator,   [OR]  air                                                                   
     carrier,  or  water taxi  operator  for the  purpose  of                                                                   
     providing air  or water transportation  to, from,  or in                                                                   
     the field.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP said he  interpreted this  to mean  that the                                                              
water taxi  operator can  advertise as a  transporter but  may not                                                              
specifically target the hunting industry.                                                                                       
2:48:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP agreed  with Representative  Knopp, that  the                                                              
section relates to soliciting big game hunters.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN  said  he   thinks  that  his  concern  was                                                              
2:48:54 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR WOOL related  his understanding that this  language would                                                              
exempt   the  water   taxi  from   regulation  as   transportation                                                              
services.   He asked the reason  to exempt them and  whether there                                                              
is   any  distinction   between   transporting   a  kayaker   from                                                              
transporting a  hunter from  point A to  point B since  water taxi                                                              
operators currently follow these [statutes].                                                                                    
2:49:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  responded that the exemption  currently does                                                              
not  apply to  water  taxis, only  to  air carriers.    Currently,                                                              
anyone running  a boat for  hire for any  purpose cannot  drop off                                                              
hunters with  hunting gear, no  matter how incidental  the service                                                              
might be.   He said this came  to his attention when  a water taxi                                                              
operator got  into trouble for  transporting a frequent  customer.                                                              
The water taxi  operators could not provide hunting  services to a                                                              
loyal customer.   The  water taxi  operators were concerned  about                                                              
sending  his/her  client  to  another   water  taxi,  which  could                                                              
potentially erode his/her client base.                                                                                          
2:50:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STUTES asked  the reason  current  water taxi  operators                                                              
would be opposed to this.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  answered that  a licensed taxi  operator who                                                              
also had a transporter  permit was concerned because  it would add                                                              
some  additional competition.    Another water  taxi operator  who                                                              
previously had  a transporter  license also had  an issue,  but he                                                              
could  not  recall  the  reason   that  water  taxi  operator  was                                                              
2:52:11 PM                                                                                                                    
MARK  RICHARDS, Executive  Director,  Resident  Hunters of  Alaska                                                              
(RHAK),  Fairbanks, Alaska,  stated  that he  also  served on  the                                                              
Transporter's  Committee  of  the  Big  Game  Commercial  Services                                                              
Board  (BGCSB).   He  said that  RHAK wants  all  hunters to  have                                                              
equal access  to the  field by commercially  licensed  and insured                                                              
carriers, whether by air taxi operators or water.                                                                               
MR.  RICHARDS  emphasized that  this  bill  would grant  the  same                                                              
exemption  to  water  taxi  operators  as  it  does  to  air  taxi                                                              
operators,  who   are  licensed  and  regulated   by  the  Federal                                                              
Aviation  Administration  (FAA).    It  would only  apply  to  the                                                              
carriage  of  hunters  as  an incidental  part  of  a  water  taxi                                                              
operator business.   He  pointed out that  "incidental" is  key in                                                              
the definitions AS 08.54.790.                                                                                                   
2:55:33 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. RICHARDS,  paraphrased from the  [RHAK] letter of  January 27,                                                              
2018,  which  read,  in part,  as  follows  [original  punctuation                                                              
     The  FAA  licenses  and  regulates  air-taxis,  and  the                                                                   
     Coast Guard  licenses and regulates watertaxis  (sic). A                                                                   
     Part  135  air-taxi  that  operates  under  the  current                                                                   
     exemptions  to provide  transportation  services to  big                                                                   
     game hunters  without holding  a transporter license  is                                                                   
     no more  or less  qualified, or  less safe, than  flying                                                                   
     with an air-taxi  that holds a transporter  license. The                                                                   
     same  would  be  true  for  water-taxis  with  the  same                                                                   
2:53:55 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  RICHARDS  said that  the  RHAK  does  not believe  the  state                                                              
should  have   been  involved   in  the  transportation   services                                                              
industry,  to  further   regulate  air  and  water   carriers  who                                                              
transport  one certain  class  of  clientele.   He  asked why  the                                                              
legislature  would  ever  tell  a business  what  it  can  charge,                                                              
whether  it can  advertise,  and  what type  of  clientele it  can                                                              
accept.   In  fact, that  is what  the  AS 08  statutes do,  which                                                              
negatively affect  resident hunters.  Any opposition  to this bill                                                              
as  it relates  to  hunter crowding  and  overharvest concerns  is                                                              
under the  sole authority  of the  Alaska Board  of Game  (BOG) to                                                              
address.    He pointed  out  it  is currently  illegal  to  direct                                                              
hunters  to animals  or to help  butcher or  transport an  animal.                                                              
He said the  RHAK hopes many aspects  of AS 08 will  be removed as                                                              
this bill moves forward.  He thanked members for their time.                                                                    
2:56:25 PM                                                                                                                    
JANEY MCCULLOUGH,  Director, Division  of Corporations,  Business,                                                              
and Professional  Licensing, Department  of Commerce,  Community &                                                              
Economic Development (DCCED), introduced herself.                                                                               
2:56:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  WOOL  prefaced his  question,  noting  he does  not  use                                                              
water   taxi  services   or  hunt   big  game.     He  asked   for                                                              
clarification  on  terminology.   He  asked  whether there  was  a                                                              
distinction  between regulations  governing  water taxi  operators                                                              
transporting him  for camping, recreation, or big  game hunting if                                                              
he decided to use a water taxi operator to do so.                                                                               
MS.  MCCULLOUGH  deferred  to  Henry   Tiffany,  Chair,  Big  Game                                                              
Commercial Services  Board (BGCSB) to answer  technical questions.                                                              
Since  he was  not available,  and  although  said she  is not  an                                                              
expert, she  offered her  belief that  an air  taxi or  water taxi                                                              
operator  would  need  to  have a  transporter's  license  if  the                                                              
operator transports hunters.                                                                                                    
2:57:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR WOOL asked  whether a transporter's license  is different                                                              
than a license a water taxi operator would need.                                                                                
MS.  MCCULLOUGH  answered  that  the division  does  not  regulate                                                              
water taxi operators,  which are under the jurisdiction  of the US                                                              
Coast Guard.                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR WOOL directed the question to Representative Knopp.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP said  during the discussion  for this  bill,                                                              
that  some believe  the transporter  licensure  is not  necessary.                                                              
He  recalled  back  in the  80s  that  transporter  licensure  was                                                              
instituted  when many nonresident  hunters  who thought they  were                                                              
booking guide  services were simply  dropped off by  air carriers.                                                              
Since  clients were  confused  about the  type  of services  being                                                              
provided,   the   BGCSB  established   transporter   licenses   to                                                              
differentiate  between big game  guide-outfitter services  and air                                                              
taxi transportation services.                                                                                                   
[HB 263 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB263 Sponsor Statement 1.22.18.pdf HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 263
HB263 ver A 1.22.18.PDF HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 263
HB263 Fiscal Note DFG DWC 1.26.18.pdf HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 263
HB263 Fiscal Note DCCED CPBL 1.30.18.pdf HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 263
HB263 Support 2.1.18.pdf HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 263
HB263 Opposition 2.1.18.pdf HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 263
HB259 ver T Sponsor Statement.pdf HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 259
HB259 ver T Sectional Analysis.pdf HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 259
HB259 ver T.PDF HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 259
HB259 Additional Document-Leg. Research Report.pdf HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 259
HB259-Supporting Document-Governor's Proclamation-Secure Your Load Day.pdf HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 259
HB259-Supporting Document-Municipality of Anchorage Proclamation.pdf HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 259
HB259-Supporting Document-Unsecured Load Incident Articles.pdf HTRA 2/1/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 259