Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/19/2004 03:30 PM Senate RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        SB  69-BOARD OF FISHERIES CONFLICTS OF INTEREST                                                                     
CHAIR SCOTT OGAN announced SB 69 to be up for consideration.                                                                    
MS.  AMY  SEITZ,  staff  to   Senator  Thomas  Wagoner,  sponsor,                                                               
explained  that  currently,  if  a  member is  found  to  have  a                                                               
conflict  with an  issue and  doesn't get  to participate  in the                                                               
discussion or vote, SB 69 changes  the procedure to match that of                                                               
the Legislature.  A member would  declare what their  conflict is                                                               
and why  and still be  able to  participate and vote.  The reason                                                               
they do this  is because the member who has  the conflict is also                                                               
often the  member who  has the most  knowledge and  experience on                                                               
that issue.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  THOMAS WAGONER  said the  administration fully  supports                                                               
this bill  as does Alan  Austerman, Fisheries Policy  Advisor for                                                               
the governor.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR RALPH SEEKINS  said, "I always believe in  the old theory                                                               
of no  conflict no interest, but  I'm wondering why we  would not                                                               
extend this same policy to the Board of Game?"                                                                                  
MS.  SEITZ  responded that  she  asked  the  Board of  Game  that                                                               
question and the members responded that they didn't want it.                                                                    
SENATOR  SEEKINS said  he was  curious about  why the  statute is                                                               
there in the first place.                                                                                                       
CHAIR  OGAN attempted  an explanation  that perhaps  most of  the                                                               
issues  the Board  of  Game  deals with  occur  during the  sport                                                               
hunting season and the only  people to have a commercial interest                                                               
would be guides or outfitters.                                                                                                  
SENATOR SEEKINS supposed in a guide's  case, it might take away a                                                               
significant portion  of their  ability to make  a living.  He was                                                               
trying to figure out  why it would be good for  one board and not                                                               
the other.                                                                                                                      
MS. SEITZ  added that the  Board of  Game only conflicts  out one                                                               
person per year.                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS countered,  "In this case, we  won't conflict out                                                               
anybody on the Board of Fish."                                                                                                  
CHAIR OGAN  asked Ms. Seitz how  many times per year  a member of                                                               
the Board of Fish is conflicted out.                                                                                            
MS. SEITZ replied that she didn't  have a number, but Mr. Dersham                                                               
MR.  ED DERSHAM,  Chair,  Board of  Fisheries,  replied about  10                                                               
times per year.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR OGAN  said his concern is  that if people are  not required                                                               
to conflict themselves out, they're going  to end up being on the                                                               
short end of the stick.                                                                                                         
SENATOR  SEEKINS said  he didn't  agree that  a person  should be                                                               
conflicted out  of a vote because  they have an interest  in what                                                               
they are  looking at. He had  never seen an instance  arise where                                                               
they didn't tell the person to  go ahead and vote anyhow. He also                                                               
was uncomfortable with holding someone  else to a higher standard                                                               
than he is bound to as a member of the Legislature.                                                                             
CHAIR  OGAN  agreed.  He  reminded  the  committee  that  Senator                                                               
Lincoln  had the  biggest Senate  district  in the  state and  he                                                               
wanted to contact her on this  issue. He also wanted more time to                                                               
consider whether or not the Board of Game should be included.                                                                   
MR.  ROLAND  MAW, Executive  Director,  United  Cook Inlet  Drift                                                               
Association, supported SB 69. He  said his bill is needed because                                                               
many  good fishermen  with  college  degrees in  resource-related                                                               
fields  are being  excluded from  participating on  the Board  of                                                               
Fisheries  process.  Also,  with   all  the  rationalization  and                                                               
consolidation going  on in the  industry, it is hard  to maintain                                                               
conflict boundaries.                                                                                                            
MS. KAREN DUNMALL, KAWERAK, Inc.,  a non-profit travel consortium                                                               
in Norton  Sound, opposed SB  69. The Board of  Fisheries website                                                               
says  it is  charged with  making allocative  decisions based  on                                                               
biological  and  socioeconomic   information  provide  by  ADF&G,                                                               
public comment and guidance from  the Alaska Department of Public                                                               
Safety and the Department of Law.                                                                                               
TAPE 04-25, SIDE B                                                                                                            
4:18 p.m.                                                                                                                       
MS. DUNMALL  was, secondly, concerned that  some proposals before                                                               
the  board  could  result  in  severe  economic  consequences  to                                                               
various groups of people including  the board members. In most of                                                               
those cases,  it would  be difficult  to impossible  to represent                                                               
all users. Her  last point was that the  interests of subsistence                                                               
users are underrepresented on the  Board of Fisheries as compared                                                               
to commercial interests.  If persons with a  conflict of interest                                                               
were  allowed to  vote  on proposals,  the  public process  would                                                               
disintegrate  and  the  gap between  commercial  and  subsistence                                                               
users would widen.                                                                                                              
MR. DERSHAM  said the board has  discussed this bill, but  is not                                                               
taking  an  official  position  although  several  members  spoke                                                               
favorably of it. No board member spoke against it.                                                                              
SENATOR ELTON applauded  the sponsor for checking  with the Board                                                               
of Game to  see if it wanted  to be under the  umbrella. The only                                                               
reason he  would not make  a motion to  move the bill  is because                                                               
the sponsor has said he is  willing to wait until Senator Lincoln                                                               
could  comment on  it.  "I hope  we can  do  it expeditiously  on                                                               
Monday, because  this is a real  issue. It is a  real problem....                                                               
It is very difficult to get people to serve...."                                                                                
CHAIR  OGAN pointed  out that  a person  is still  subject to  AS                                                               
39.52.120 - misuse  of official position. He  agreed with Senator                                                               
Elton's  comments   pointing  out   that  the   Senate  Resources                                                               
Committee has four commercial  fishermen, a subsistence fisherman                                                               
and two fillet and release fishermen on it.                                                                                     
SENATOR  WAGONER  said he  would  meet  with Senator  Lincoln  on                                                               
Monday  and move  the bill  on Wednesday.  Senator Seekins  would                                                               
check with the Board of Game in the meantime.                                                                                   
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
CHAIR OGAN adjourned the meeting at 4:30 p.m.                                                                                   

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