Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205

03/04/2016 03:30 PM Senate RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 164 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
       SB 164-FISH & GAME: OFFENSES; LICENSES; PENALTIES                                                                    
3:31:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL  announced the consideration  of SB 164.  She noted                                                               
that staff  at the Alaska  Departments of Fish and  Game (ADF&G),                                                               
Public  Safety  (DPS), and  Law  (DOL)  testified at  a  previous                                                               
hearing,  and she  opened  up the  hearing  to public  testimony,                                                               
limited to two minutes each.                                                                                                    
3:33:32 PM                                                                                                                    
BYRON CHARLES,  representing himself, Ketchikan, Alaska,  said he                                                               
recently saw  a dead  sea lion  with a  triple-hook stuck  in its                                                               
throat, which was likely the result  of the sea lion's attempt to                                                               
grab a  snagged salmon. These  "fish wars"  in Alaska need  to be                                                               
better contained  to prevent people  from hurting each  other, he                                                               
said.  The  new   policies  proposed  in  SB   164  need  serious                                                               
amendments,  he noted.  "What  kind  of penalty  can  you put  or                                                               
impose on  somebody when a  sea lion  has a triple-hook  stuck in                                                               
its  throat?" He  said  he  grew up  snagging  fish with  halibut                                                               
hooks, but  the triple-hooks need  to be  outlawed. Additionally,                                                               
section 1 of SB 164 "should be fly fishing only," he stated.                                                                    
3:36:33 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE   TINKER,   Alaska    Wildlife   Conservation   Association,                                                               
Fairbanks, Alaska, said the public did  not get to testify at the                                                               
first hearing,  but the first sections  of SB 164 are  fine, "and                                                               
probably going  to the  class A  [misdemeanor] just  reflects the                                                               
modernization." He questioned the  deletion of "upon conviction,"                                                               
as it  seems a person would  have to be convicted  before getting                                                               
fines and restitutions. The new  fines are good, he said, because                                                               
some of the current levels are archaic.                                                                                         
MR.  TINKER  expressed  concern   in  trying  to  recoup  federal                                                               
matching  funds; "both  from the  fish side  and on  the wildlife                                                               
side,  that's a  reimbursement program."  When a  legislator asks                                                               
how much the state has to pay  for the management of a caribou in                                                               
order to  get a  reimbursable figure  to add into  the fine  is a                                                               
very difficult thing to do, he  said, "one that would likely cost                                                               
many, many  times what would come  out of the fine."  He said his                                                               
point is that  if "you took the  eligible Pittman-Robertson money                                                               
on caribou, for  example, where we have hundreds  of thousands of                                                               
them, and divided  it by the hundreds of thousands  of dollars we                                                               
spend on qualifying  characteristics, we'd come up  with a dollar                                                               
a caribou, and  at three-to-one, you could  recover three bucks."                                                               
He  said  he does  not  see  how  Alaska  could do  that  without                                                               
"running the  cost of  the thing  way out  into the  future." Mr.                                                               
Tinker gave the example of someone  getting a fine for [taking] a                                                               
caribou,  "and then  the  retribution  for Pittman-Robertson  ...                                                               
comes   the  following   October   when  the   state  makes   its                                                               
reimbursement charge."  He said it  is unclear and he  would like                                                               
that clarified, but he does not see it "as a doable thing."                                                                     
MR. TINKER  said other amendments  are needed, and one  thing his                                                               
group has been on top of  for several years is "geography getting                                                               
in the way, and that is  the application of restitution" where it                                                               
is applied  in some cases and  not in others. He  said first-time                                                               
unintentional, technical violators who  turn themselves in should                                                               
be exempt, "otherwise we're not getting  the bang for our buck to                                                               
try to get hunters  in the field; the idea is  not to scare every                                                               
single new or inexperienced hunter  out of the field because [the                                                               
hunter] might get slapped down."                                                                                                
CHAIR  GIESSEL suggested  Mr.  Tinker submit  a  letter with  his                                                               
suggestions and questions.                                                                                                      
3:40:55 PM                                                                                                                    
AL BARRETTE, representing himself,  Fairbanks, Alaska, said he is                                                               
a member  of the Fairbanks  Advisory Committee and  other outdoor                                                               
organizations.  He stated  that SB  164 is  well thought  out and                                                               
goes  in the  right  direction, but  he  suggested a  restitution                                                               
exemption for  self-reporting violators who salvage  all of their                                                               
game and surrender it to  wildlife enforcement. [The change] will                                                               
not take anything  away from public safety, he  opined. The court                                                               
system uses  this penalty arbitrarily,  he said, and he  gave the                                                               
examples  of Judge  David [Zwink]  who adds  restitution to  plea                                                               
bargain  deals on  self-reported  violations  and Superior  Court                                                               
Judge  [Richard Erlich]  who charged  three Point  Hope residents                                                               
who  killed up  to 37  caribou  without salvaging  the meat  with                                                               
wanton waste and did not issue  a fine, community service, or any                                                               
kind  of  education  requirement.  "He actually  said  it  was  a                                                               
nominal charge,"  and that is  very disturbing that  wanton waste                                                               
of Alaska's wildlife is just a nominal incident, he stated.                                                                     
MR.  BARRETTE suggested  removing "sport"  from resident  fishing                                                               
licenses, because  there are at  least 20,000 to  40,000 Alaskans                                                               
who subsistence  fish and  do not contribute  since they  are not                                                               
required to have a license. "I  think the second largest users of                                                               
our fish resources,  which is subsistence, ought to  pay a little                                                               
bit of something  into our management of our  fish resources," he                                                               
3:44:03 PM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD  DAVIS,  Seafood   Producers  Cooperative  (SPC),  Sitka,                                                               
Alaska, explained that  the SPC is a  fishing business collective                                                               
and cold  storage in  Sitka, owned and  operated by  600 fishers,                                                               
most  of  whom are  Alaskans.  He  explained  that SPC  has  been                                                               
operating  since 1945  when the  cooperative provided  fish liver                                                               
oil  for  WWII,  and  it   is  the  oldest  and  largest  fishery                                                               
cooperative of  its kind in  North America. Mr. Davis  noted that                                                               
section  6 of  SB 164  doubles the  maximum fines  for first  and                                                               
second  convictions for  fishery violations  but does  not double                                                               
the  maximum fine  for a  third conviction.  In view  of Alaska's                                                               
demerit point  system that fishers  operate under, they  can only                                                               
collect so many points of  offenses against their licenses before                                                               
losing them for  one to three years. "The  third conviction could                                                               
be  any number  you  wanted to  put in  there  because under  the                                                               
three-strikes-and-out  and the  strict  liability  risk that  you                                                               
incur if  you have violations  of a strict liability  nature, you                                                               
could lose  your boat and your  permits, and it's been  done," he                                                               
said. He noted that the current  bill version does not double the                                                               
maximum fine for  any of the 12 listed game  species. He said his                                                               
fishermen believe  that if fines  are doubled, it should  be done                                                               
uniformly across all of the  revenues collected through the penal                                                               
system.  If  there  is a  chronic  fisheries  compliance  problem                                                               
somewhere in  Alaska that can be  pointed out to Mr.  Davis, then                                                               
he  would be  willing to  reconsider. Alaska's  commercial salmon                                                               
fishers are earning less money  for their products than they were                                                               
ten years ago, he stated.                                                                                                       
3:46:41 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL suggested  that  Mr. Davis  write down  specific                                                               
concerns about the fines for the committee.                                                                                     
3:47:17 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL asked  if there  were any  witnesses wanting  to                                                               
testify, and, hearing none, closed public testimony.                                                                            
3:48:13 PM                                                                                                                    
BERNARD  CHASTAIN,  Deputy  Director, Alaska  Wildlife  Troopers,                                                               
Department  of  Public  Safety (DPS),  Anchorage,  noted  that  a                                                               
witness asked why the term  "upon conviction" was removed, and he                                                               
pointed out  that section  16 on  page 5  of SB  164 refers  to a                                                               
person "who is convicted."                                                                                                      
CHAIR GIESSEL asked about the reference on page 5, line 26.                                                                     
3:49:07 PM                                                                                                                    
AARON PETERSON,  Attorney, Criminal Division, Department  of Law,                                                               
Anchorage,   said  "upon   conviction"   was  superfluous   since                                                               
misdemeanor fines are not imposed without convictions.                                                                          
CHAIR GIESSEL referred  to the question about  doubling fines for                                                               
a second conviction but not for more convictions.                                                                               
3:50:25 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. PETERSON  said that  fines for  first and  second convictions                                                               
were set in  1988, but fines for subsequent  convictions were set                                                               
later and do not need inflation adjustments.                                                                                    
CHAIR  GIESSEL suggested  that the  fines were  not increased  so                                                               
much as they were adjusted for justification.                                                                                   
MR.  PETERSON said  he was  not  involved in  setting the  fines;                                                               
however, the increase does mirror inflation rates.                                                                              
3:52:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE said  he would like to know when  big game fines                                                               
were  set to  see  if  the adjustments  are  fair. Adjusting  for                                                               
inflation is a  good way to raise fines, he  said. He asked about                                                               
a 50  percent reduction in  fines for  self-reporting violations,                                                               
"so we don't have the  waste that's associated without that self-                                                               
3:53:40 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  CHASTAIN said  the legislature  set the  current restitution                                                               
amounts in  1996. He  stated that  DPS is  not concerned  so much                                                               
with the amount of the fine;  however, it supports the concept of                                                               
reducing  or  eliminating  restitution for  a  "self-turn-in"  to                                                               
encourage  people to  bring in  carcasses.  "In fact,  that is  a                                                               
policy of our  department to not apply restitution  to people who                                                               
turn  themselves in  ... and  we have  an established  history of                                                               
doing  that," he  added. Troopers  make  such recommendations  to                                                               
district attorneys, but there have  been a few times where judges                                                               
have decided it  would be more appropriate  to apply restitution.                                                               
He  said  having  flexibility  is  important,  and  not  applying                                                               
restitution would encourage people to  bring in animals that were                                                               
illegally taken.                                                                                                                
3:55:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  said it makes  people less likely to  cut their                                                               
gear  loose if  they "wouldn't  be  fined by  harvesting all  the                                                               
fish."  He said  it  is something  to think  about  for the  next                                                               
committee.  He  said  he  remains concerned  about  the  tags  or                                                               
permits in  [subsections] (f) and (g)  of section 3 that  must be                                                               
validated  upon  harvest, because  "it  clearly  doesn't work  in                                                               
electronic form for something that has to be validated."                                                                        
3:56:53 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL asked  if it is true  that subsistence harvesters                                                               
do not have to be licensed.                                                                                                     
3:57:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SETH  BEAUSANG, Attorney,  Alaska Department  of Law,  Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska, said some subsistence fisheries  require permits, but not                                                               
3:58:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL asked  if there are 20,000  to 40,000 subsistence                                                               
users as stated by the previous witness.                                                                                        
MR. BEAUSANG said he does not know.                                                                                             
SENATOR  COGHILL requested  the number  of subsistence  users and                                                               
the number of  issued sport fishing licenses. It  is a legitimate                                                               
point if the  state does not know how many  fish are being taken,                                                               
he stated.                                                                                                                      
3:59:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE suggested that the  witness was referring to the                                                               
difference  between  subsistence  and  personal  use,  where  one                                                               
requires a license and one does not.                                                                                            
SENATOR COGHILL  said the confusion  is not  surprising, "because                                                               
it divides Alaskans pretty well  ... between the personal use and                                                               
subsistence  use; however,  it would  be  nice to  know how  many                                                               
subsistence usage permits are there, if any."                                                                                   
SENATOR GIESSEL  asked Senator  Coghill to  pose his  question to                                                               
the next witness.                                                                                                               
4:01:16 PM                                                                                                                    
BRUCE DALE,  Director, Division of Wildlife  Conservation, Alaska                                                               
Department of Fish  and Game (ADF&G), Palmer, asked him  if he is                                                               
asking only about personal use fisheries.                                                                                       
SENATOR  COGHILL  said  it  is   fisheries;  how  does  a  person                                                               
distinguish between  personal use and subsistence  fisheries, and                                                               
do they both require permits or licenses?                                                                                       
MR. DALE replied that he would get back to Senator Coghill.                                                                     
4:02:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE asked  why [AS 16.05.782(d)] was  not in section                                                               
8 of the bill.                                                                                                                  
4:02:45 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. PETERSON clarified that subsection (d) is not being amended.                                                                
SENATOR MICCICHE  spoke of a  situation where a person  who never                                                               
breaks laws is  hunting bears and stumbles within a  half mile of                                                               
a solid waste disposal facility and "drops a bear and a brown-                                                                  
shirt comes."  Will there be any  leniency if the hunter  did not                                                               
intend to use the waste facility as bait?                                                                                       
4:04:22 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  CHASTAIN said  that section  deals with  taking brown  bears                                                               
near solid waste  disposal sites. "What is attempting  to be done                                                               
here is  that it  makes it  a violation if  we cannot  prove that                                                               
negligence was part of it," he added.                                                                                           
4:05:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  interpreted Mr.  Chastain's reply to  mean that                                                               
the DPS would be reasonable in its approach.                                                                                    
4:05:58 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL  noted that many  concerns with SB 164  are related                                                               
to judicial matters, so she advocated  moving it on to the Senate                                                               
Judiciary Committee.                                                                                                            
4:06:25 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COSTELLO moved  to report  SB 164,  version 29-GS2958\A,                                                               
from  committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  attached                                                               
fiscal note(s).                                                                                                                 
4:06:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GIESSEL  announced  that  without  objection,  SB  164  is                                                               
reported from committee.                                                                                                        

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB164 ver A.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 164
SB164 - Sectional Analysis.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 164
SB164 Sponsor Statement - Governor's Transmittal letter.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 164
SB164-F&G-CO-2-2-16.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 164
SB164-Fiscal Note-DPS-1-29-2016.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 164
SB172 ver A.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 172
SB172 Sponsor Statement - Governor's Transmittal letter.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 172
SB172- Sectional Analysis.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 172
SB172-DFG-CF-2-5-16.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 172
SB172-Supporting Document-UFA Support.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 172
SB172-Supporting Document-AKCRRAB Support.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 172
SB172-Supporting Document-AFDF Support.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 172
SB172-Supporting Document-PVOA Support.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 172
SB172-Comment-Nancy Hillstrand.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 172
SB172-Supporting Document-SEAFA.pdf SRES 3/4/2016 3:30:00 PM
SB 172