Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

02/20/2019 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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Audio Topic
03:30:15 PM Start
03:30:49 PM SB43
04:49:18 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 43 EXTEND BIG GAME COMMERCIAL SERVICES BOARD TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
        SB 43-EXTEND BIG GAME COMMERCIAL SERVICES BOARD                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:30:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BIRCH  announced the  consideration of  Senate Bill  43 (SB                                                               
43).                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:31:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DAVID  WILSON, Alaska State Legislature,  Juneau, Alaska,                                                               
sponsor of SB 43, detailed that  SB 43 extends the termination of                                                               
the Big Game  Commercial Services Board (BGCSB)  six years, until                                                               
June 30,  2025. The  board consists  of two  licensed registered-                                                               
guide outfitters, two transporters,  two private landholders, two                                                               
members of the public, and one member of the Board of Game.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WILSON  explained  that Legislative  Audit  conducted  a                                                               
review of the  board and recommended a  six-year extension, which                                                               
is  two years  less than  the eight-year  [maximum.] Kris  Curtis                                                               
from   Legislative   Audit   will  review   the   audit's   three                                                               
recommendations and responses to the recommendations.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
He  summarized that  BGCSB plays  an important  role in  managing                                                               
activities  of commercial  game hunters  in the  interest of  the                                                               
state's wildlife resources which are very valuable to Alaska.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:32:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BISHOP joined the committee meeting.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:33:51 PM                                                                                                                    
KRIS CURTIS,  State Legislative Auditor, Division  of Legislative                                                               
Audit, Alaska  State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska,  explained that                                                               
the  Division  of  Legislative   Audit,  "Legislative  Audit"  or                                                               
"division," conducted  an audit  of the  BGCSB. The  audit report                                                               
was dated September 2018.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
She explained  that the  sunset audit's  purpose is  to determine                                                               
whether a board should be extended  and whether it is serving the                                                               
public interest.  The audit concluded  that the board  is serving                                                               
the  public interest  by conducting  its  meetings in  accordance                                                               
with statutes by amending regulations  to improve the occupations                                                               
under  its  purview,  and  by  supporting  changes  made  by  the                                                               
Department of Law to improve  the timeliness of the investigative                                                               
process.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
She added that  the board worked to eliminate an  over $1 million                                                               
deficit  that  Legislative  Audit  reported in  its  2015  sunset                                                               
audit.  The audit  also concluded  that board  licenses were  not                                                               
consistently supported  by adequate documentation, a  high number                                                               
of  investigations had  unjustified  periods  of inactivity,  and                                                               
three  board  positions  were  vacant  for  an  extended  period.                                                               
Legislative Audit  is recommending  a six-year extension  for the                                                               
BGCSB.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
She detailed  that there is  a schedule of licensing  activity on                                                               
page 8 of the  audit. As of May 2018, there was  a total of 1,219                                                               
active licenses;  this represents a 20-percent  decrease compared                                                               
to the  prior 2015  sunset audit. According  to the  board chair,                                                               
the  decrease is  due in  part to  guides retiring  and decreased                                                               
interest in the profession.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CURTIS detailed  that the  board chair  reported that  there                                                               
were  fewer transporters  because many  changed operating  as air                                                               
taxis  to avoid  the license  transporter reporting  requirements                                                               
and  related fees.  As of  April  2015, there  were 151  licensed                                                               
transporters and there were 90 as  of May 2018; this represents a                                                               
40 percent decrease in the number of licensed transporters.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
She  explained   that  the  board's  schedule   of  revenues  and                                                               
expenditures is on page 10. The  board had a surplus of just over                                                               
$132,000  at  the  end  of  FY18,  which  is  fairly  significant                                                               
compared to the $1 million deficit three years prior.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:36:05 PM                                                                                                                    
She   detailed   the    Legislative   Audit   board   improvement                                                               
recommendations, listed on pages 14-16 in the audit, as follows:                                                                
                                                                                                                                
   1. The director for the Division of Corporations, Business and                                                               
     Professional Licensing (DCPL), should improve management                                                                   
     procedures to ensure required documentation is obtained,                                                                   
     reviewed, and retained to support licensure:                                                                               
        a. Legislative Audit tested 25 new licenses issued and                                                                  
          errors were found in 14 of them:                                                                                      
            i. Errors are listed on page 14.                                                                                    
           ii. The more serious of the errors were missing                                                                      
               background checks and a lack of adequate                                                                         
               investigatory review.                                                                                            
         iii. In total, the error rate was 56 percent.                                                                          
           iv. According to DCPL management there was turnover                                                                  
               in the staff that supported the boarded and                                                                      
               contributed to the errors.                                                                                       
            v. The audit also identified a lack of adequate                                                                     
               supervisory review.                                                                                              
   2. The DCPL chief investigator should increase oversight to                                                                  
     improve the timeliness of the investigations:                                                                              
        a. Legislative Audit tested 22 investigations that had                                                                  
          been open for 180 days during the division's audit                                                                    
          period:                                                                                                               
            i. The division found unjustified periods of                                                                        
               inactivity in 20 of the 22 cases.                                                                                
           ii. According to DCPL's chief investigator, the                                                                      
               periods of inactivity were due in part to:                                                                       
                  1. Lack of adequate resources to address the                                                                  
                    high case load;                                                                                             
                  2. Supervisors were not adequately monitoring                                                                 
                    cases.                                                                                                      
   3. The Office of the Governor and the director of Boards and                                                                 
     Commissions should work with the board to identify the                                                                     
     potential applicants in a timely manner:                                                                                   
        a. During a three-year period, Legislative Audit found                                                                  
          the following:                                                                                                        
            i. A license transporter board position and a                                                                       
               private landholder board  position were vacant for                                                               
               over six  months due to  an inability  to identify                                                               
               interested applicants.                                                                                           
           ii. One Board of Game position was vacant for eight                                                                  
               months because the Office  of the Governor, Boards                                                               
               and  Commissions' staff  were  not  notified of  a                                                               
               vacancy.                                                                                                         
          iii. According to Boards and Commissions' staff, the                                                                  
               two licensed  transporter board positions  and the                                                               
               two   private  landholder   board  positions   are                                                               
               difficult  to  fill  due  to  a  limited  pool  of                                                               
               qualified candidates.                                                                                            
           iv. Private land that is effected by guide hunting                                                                   
               activities  and transportation  services is  often                                                               
               owned  by large  private landholders  which limits                                                               
               the pool of qualified candidates.                                                                                
            v. The number of licensed transporters decreased by                                                                 
               40  percent over  a  3-year  period which  further                                                               
               limits the pool of potential applicants.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:38:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. CURTIS detailed responses to recommendations, noted on pages                                                                
25-29, as follows:                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
   • The commissioner of Commerce, Community and Economic                                                                       
     Development (DCCED) agrees with recommendations number-one                                                                 
     and number-two:                                                                                                            
        o DCCED has stated that they have taken steps to resolve                                                                
          the recommendations.                                                                                                  
   • The Office of the Governor agrees to work with the board to                                                                
     fill vacant seats in a timely manner.                                                                                      
   • The chair of the BGCSB agrees that the board should work                                                                   
     with the Office of the Governor to fill vacancies as                                                                       
     quickly as possible and added that all the board's seats                                                                   
     were filled at the time of his response.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL noted Legislative Audit's recommendation-one on                                                                 
page 14 regarding the examination of board applications. She                                                                    
asked who  does the application  examinations at the  Division of                                                               
Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing (DCBPL).                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. CURTIS  answered that licensing  examiners employed  by DCBPL                                                               
review applications.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GIESSEL asked  how many  licensing examiners  does DCBPL                                                               
have.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. CURTIS  suggested that Senator  Giessel direct her  answer to                                                               
DCBPL.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL addressed  Legislative Audit's recommendation-two                                                               
regarding investigations not being timely  and noted that she has                                                               
seen a  lot of audits with  the same deficiency on  other boards.                                                               
She asked  if "not  being timely"  is a  common finding  in audit                                                               
investigations.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. CURTIS answered that the finding  is common, maybe not to the                                                               
extent of what  was noted for the  BGCSB, which was 20  out of 22                                                               
cases, a  "super high" percentage.  Legislative Audit  noted that                                                               
there were 250 cases opened during  the period and 150 cases were                                                               
opened for  over 180  days. The BGCSB  differs from  other boards                                                               
because  more  of  their  cases  are  taking  a  longer  time  to                                                               
complete.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:41:10 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL  opined  that  serving  on  the  BGCSB  is  more                                                               
complicated than  other professional licensing boards.  She noted                                                               
that BGCSB interfaces with the  Alaska Wildlife Troopers on cases                                                               
that  involve  guides,  an  adjudication  process  that  can  get                                                               
complicated.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. CURTIS  replied that  Senator Giessel  is correct.  She added                                                               
that there can be delays on behalf of wildlife troopers.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR REINBOLD  addressed opposition  to extending  the board's                                                               
term  to six  years. She  referenced  a complainant  who filed  a                                                               
complaint against a  guide in August 2018 and has  not heard back                                                               
from  the board's  investigator or  the trooper  involved in  the                                                               
case.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. CURTIS  replied that  she was  not sure  about the  case that                                                               
Senator Reinbold  addressed. Legislative Audit reviewed  22 cases                                                               
during its audit that was filed  in August 2018. The division did                                                               
note significant  problem with delays.  She said there are  a lot                                                               
of reasons  for delays, but  the division's issue with  the board                                                               
includes    unjustified    periods     of    inactivity    during                                                               
investigations. However,  the division  cannot tell if  the delay                                                               
was  due  to  documentation  or a  systematic  problem  with  the                                                               
investigative process.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:43:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  REINBOLD commented  that based  on the  board's systemic                                                               
problems, waiting six years is a long time before another audit.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. CURTIS  explained that the  division's audit is not  an exact                                                               
science. The  division often sees  issues with  the investigatory                                                               
process. BGCSB  has made changes in  their documentation process.                                                               
The division  did an  audit three  years ago  due to  the board's                                                               
million-dollar  deficit, but  the  division  determined that  the                                                               
board was  serving the public's interest.  Legislative Audit felt                                                               
that six  years was an  adequate extension, a  determination that                                                               
is a policy decision.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL asked  Ms. Curtis if the issue is  with DCBPL and                                                               
not directly with the board itself.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CURTIS replied  that the  issue Senator  Giessel noted  is a                                                               
point highlighted  to her during  legislative hearings,  an issue                                                               
she agreed with; however, Legislative  Audit does not absolve the                                                               
board  from their  responsibility  knowing  how things  progress.                                                               
BGCSB cannot be involved in  the investigations because they need                                                               
to  outside  of  the  process.  The  board  cannot  ask  detailed                                                               
questions  because   they  must   function  in   a  semi-judicial                                                               
capacity.  The board's  audit is  the only  legislative oversight                                                               
process  for the  Legislature, so  Legislative  Audit brings  the                                                               
issues up even though the issues may  not be solely on the lap of                                                               
the board, the issues may rest with the division as well.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:46:07 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL noted a public  comment on the board that addressed                                                               
the saturation  of guides on state  lands. He asked if  the board                                                               
has statutory authority to address  the number of guides on state                                                               
lands as the law is currently written.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WILSON opined  that he does not see the  number of guides                                                               
on  state lands  as  being an  issue for  the  board because  the                                                               
number  of   guides  should  decline   due  to  the   decline  of                                                               
transporters.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. CURTIS  noted that  she had  posed the  same question  to the                                                               
auditors as to what degree the  issue was when the audit occurred                                                               
and what role the Department  of Natural Resources (DNR) plays in                                                               
the  permits.  She  suggested  that the  division  be  asked  the                                                               
question. She said  her understanding is the  board has statutory                                                               
limitations on issuing  licenses and whether there needs  to be a                                                               
statutory change  for the board to  do any type of  limitation on                                                               
the number of licenses.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:48:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BISHOP commented  that the  committee was  drifting away                                                               
from  addressing  extending the  board's  sunset  versus a  guide                                                               
concession bill or changing licensure.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR REINBOLD asked if Ms.  Curtis was comfortable with a six-                                                               
year extension versus a shorter  time period. She opined that the                                                               
issues brought up about the board were germane to the bill.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. CURTIS  answered that she  is comfortable with  her six-year-                                                               
extension   recommendation.   She   said  the   decision   is   a                                                               
policymakers'   decision    and   noted   that    her   extension                                                               
recommendations have  been changed  in the  past. The  issue with                                                               
the licenses and the investigations  are focused on the division.                                                               
Some of the issues brought up  in the letters were not considered                                                               
as part of the audit. She  opined that Legislative Audit may have                                                               
had a different  recommendation if the issues were  brought up at                                                               
the time of the audit.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WILSON suggested that the  committee should hear from the                                                               
Division of Corporations, Business  and Professional Licensing to                                                               
provide  more  insight  about the  complications  from  licensing                                                               
issues.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:50:52 PM                                                                                                                    
SARA  CHAMBERS,  Division  Director,  Division  of  Corporations,                                                               
Business  and  Professional  Licensing, Department  of  Commerce,                                                               
Community, and Professional  Licensing, Juneau, Alaska, explained                                                               
that  the  division  provides  the  administrative  staffing  and                                                               
investigative support  for all 43  of its licensing  programs and                                                               
21 boards.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
She  said she  agreed with  Ms. Curtis  and noted  the division's                                                               
appreciation in  the audit process.  The division is  involved in                                                               
at least one board audit every  year and opined that something is                                                               
always learned  from the findings.  She said the  division agrees                                                               
with the audit's  findings regarding items within  the purview of                                                               
the division rather than the board.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
She noted that the licensing  deficiencies are a new finding. The                                                               
scope of the audit  was from July 1, 2015 to  May 31, 2018. There                                                               
was significant  turnover in licensing  examiners as well  was as                                                               
the  supervisor  for the  audit.  Three  or four  examiners  were                                                               
involved in  the audit process,  adding that the process  did not                                                               
have  redundancies. The  audit was  highly complex  with multiple                                                               
agencies  both   on  the   licensing  and   investigation  sides.                                                               
Licensing  does  more  than  issuing a  license,  there  is  also                                                               
involvement in  guide-use areas,  and over a  dozen very-involved                                                               
exams   that  must   be   maintained   and  issued.   Maintaining                                                               
consistency can be  a challenge when trying to  get the attention                                                               
of a board member who is out in the field.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. CHAMBERS  said the  division recognized  in 2017  through the                                                               
audit process  when seven sunset  audits were occurring  that the                                                               
division needs  more supervisory  support. The division  needs to                                                               
have  some level  of redundancy  to  be able  to provide  quality                                                               
control  and  not  live  on  a  hand-to-mouth  stance  where  the                                                               
division  is  "eking  by."  The division  has  worked  on  adding                                                               
supervisors with the hope that  the positions can be kept filled.                                                               
The new  supervisor has "dug deep"  to find better ways  to train                                                               
and  provide   institutional  knowledge.  She  opined   that  the                                                               
division is heading in a great direction "licensing wise."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
She  said  the  story  for  licensing  is  very  similar  to  the                                                               
division's  investigations.   The  division   has  a   new  chief                                                               
investigator  and two  new senior  investigators to  provide more                                                               
quality  assurance that  did not  exist at  the beginning  of the                                                               
board's  audit.   The  division   has  heard  the   message  from                                                               
Legislative  Audit  that the  division  needs  to also  hold  its                                                               
auditors accountable for  the paperwork and making  sure that the                                                               
record reflects what is happening in the life of the program.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:55:32 PM                                                                                                                    
She said the program is  complex from an investigative standpoint                                                               
that involves  multiple agencies  working together.  The division                                                               
relies a  lot on  wildlife troopers, DNR,  and other  agencies to                                                               
provide  information. She  opined that  the licensee-base  guards                                                               
their ability to  hunt and guide, something that  has been passed                                                               
down generationally,  something that is  a matter of  great skill                                                               
and great  pride. The licensee-base  will fight  an investigation                                                               
tooth-and-nail,  resulting in  investigations that  drag on  with                                                               
board decisions that are appealed  in order to maintain licenses.                                                               
The division provides due process, but  the result takes a lot of                                                               
time that creates massive caseloads.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
She  explained   that  the  division  has   added  administrative                                                               
processes to help reduce costs  when warranted, but the intent is                                                               
also to  lean on law enforcement  agencies and not do  double the                                                               
work. The division  is not out investigating the  same facts that                                                               
the wildlife troopers are  investigating. When a wildlife-trooper                                                               
conviction occurs,  pulling a  license is  easy. The  division is                                                               
trying to find  synergies with other state agencies  to keep cost                                                               
down,  noting  that  the  board   had  accrued  a  million-dollar                                                               
deficit,  primarily  due  to investigative  costs;  however,  the                                                               
deficit was turned around through multiple means.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR REINBOLD remarked that she will  be a "no vote" on SB 43.                                                               
She said  she has  read letters  from constituents  regarding the                                                               
board  and  opined that  there  are  systemic problems  with  the                                                               
licensing process and refusal to revoke licenses.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR BIRCH asked Senator Reinbold if she has a question.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  REINBOLD asked  if Ms.  Chambers supports  extending the                                                               
boards sunset for six years.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:58:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  CHAMBERS answered  that  she does  not  have a  "particular"                                                               
number of  years in her mind  that is reasonable. Too  short of a                                                               
turnaround does not allow enough time  to reassess and is also an                                                               
additional expense  to the state  through the audit  process that                                                               
maybe could  be better served  in a different way.  Regardless of                                                               
what the  number is, whether it  is one year or  eight years, the                                                               
division will continue  to work with Legislative  Audit and takes                                                               
the noted concerns  seriously. The boards need to  be educated as                                                               
to  their  responsibilities and  be  good  listeners of  public's                                                               
concerns.  BGCSB  takes  very   seriously  public  concerns.  She                                                               
summarized  that  the  division   takes  very  seriously  factual                                                               
matters that  are substantiated  versus opinions  or expectations                                                               
that are not in line with statute.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KAWASAKI  called attention  to the  "eight duties  of the                                                               
board" and asked  what the actual functions of the  board are and                                                               
what  does the  division do  for the  board. He  inquired if  the                                                               
board or division prepares and grades qualification exams.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. CHAMBERS  answered that registered guides  develop the exams.                                                               
The division prepares the exam  paperwork for someone to take the                                                               
exam. The  division grades  the written  exam but  registered and                                                               
master guides preform the evaluations for the practical exam.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:00:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI  asked Ms.  Chambers to  confirm that  exams are                                                               
written   by  guides   in  consultation   with   the  board   and                                                               
administered through the division.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. CHAMBERS answered yes.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  KAWASAKI addressed  the board's  fourth-listed duty  and                                                               
asked if the duty is something that the board does.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. CHAMBERS explained that the  board can delegate certain tasks                                                               
to staff, each board is  different regarding what statute allows.                                                               
The  division  can process  licenses  if  they meet  the  board's                                                               
criteria which are established in statute and regulation.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   KAWASAKI  addressed   the  board's   fifth-listed  duty                                                               
regarding disciplinary  sanctions on licensees and  asked if that                                                               
is specifically what the board does.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. CHAMBERS answered yes; the  duty is specifically reserved for                                                               
the board.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KAWASAKI asked  Ms. Chamber to address  the board's sixth                                                               
through eighth listed duties.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CHAMBERS answered  that disseminating  information regarding                                                               
exams  is  something  that the  division  does  administratively.                                                               
Adopting regulations is exclusively  reserved to the board. Board                                                               
meetings  is at  the  call  of the  chair  which usually  happens                                                               
twice,  usually through  teleconference, but  the board  has been                                                               
holding two in-person meetings a year.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:02:24 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KAWASAKI  opined that  90  percent  of boards  meet  the                                                               
statutory requirements  set forth  in statute.  He said  he would                                                               
continuously  address every  board  extension as  to whether  the                                                               
board is necessary, or could  the division internally perform the                                                               
duties.  He  asked Ms.  Chambers  to  confirm that  the  division                                                               
specifically deals  with things and  the board deals  with things                                                               
that are necessary in its function.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. CHAMBERS answered  that each board is  different depending on                                                               
how the law  is written, there is not a  template for all boards.                                                               
If there  is a board,  there are certain duties  like regulations                                                               
and  discipline that  are exclusively  reserved  for the  boards.                                                               
Whether  the division  could perform  those duties,  the division                                                               
has  22 professions  that  do  not have  boards  and whether  the                                                               
division could  perform all  the "board  duties" without  a board                                                               
would  be a  matter  for  deep discussion.  The  division has  no                                                               
guides on its  staff, no knowledge of being out  in the field and                                                               
what  it takes.  If the  division did  not have  the boards,  the                                                               
division   would   have   to   contract   for   experienced-based                                                               
information  for assistance  in crafting  regulations and  how to                                                               
discipline.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:04:27 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BIRCH opened public testimony.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:04:41 PM                                                                                                                    
JASON  BUNCH,  Board  Appointee,  Big  Game  Commercial  Services                                                               
Board,  Kodiak, Alaska,  outlined  what the  board was  currently                                                               
working on. He said he was  open to questions to address comments                                                               
that have been made during the committee meeting.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GIESSEL  asked  Mr. Bunch  to  explain  the  examination                                                               
process  for someone  applying for  a guide  license and  what do                                                               
they have to do to demonstrate their qualifications.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. BUNCH answered that there  are different licenses reviewed by                                                               
the  board. Some  applicants need  to address  their time  in the                                                               
field,  time  with  clients,  testament  to  certain  skills  and                                                               
knowledge, or  address time  in certain  guide-use areas  or game                                                               
management units.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL  specified that she  was interested  in reviewing                                                               
the process that  a guide would have to go  through to qualify to                                                               
be licensed.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BUNCH asked  if Senator Giessel was speaking  directly to the                                                               
testing that  is done  in partnership with  the division  and the                                                               
guide board itself.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL answered yes. She  specified that the process she                                                               
was inquiring about  involves a written exam that  takes a couple                                                               
of hours.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:07:31 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BUNCH detailed the guide licensing process as follows:                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
   • Application:                                                                                                               
        o Many stipulations must be met:                                                                                        
             square4 Time in the field,                                                                                         
             square4 Good reviews by clients as an assistant guide.                                                             
   • Attend board meeting to:                                                                                                   
        o Take 150 question test that covers:                                                                                   
             square4 Statutes and regulations,                                                                                  
             square4 Pertinent information regarding hunting,                                                                   
             square4 Safety,                                                                                                    
             square4 Environmentally safe practices,                                                                            
             square4 Ethics:                                                                                                    
                • Spatial distance of guiding,                                                                                  
                  • Spatial distance between hunters.                                                                           
        o Oral boards:                                                                                                          
             square4 Two oral boards.                                                                                           
             square4 Three registered guide outfitters proctor each                                                             
               oral board.                                                                                                      
             square4 First oral board is trophy judging with questions                                                          
               on:                                                                                                              
                  • What a legal sheep is;                                                                                      
                  • What is considered a mature adult boar, a                                                                   
                    bear;                                                                                                       
                  • Score responsibly a sheep, goat, or brown                                                                   
                    bear skulls; caribou rack or moose antlers;                                                                 
                  • Intent is to prove what is considered a                                                                     
                    trophy by various standards throughout the                                                                  
                    world.                                                                                                      
             square4 Provide video of applicant:                                                                                
                  • Skinning  or   caping    an   animal    for                                                                 
                    preservation for taxidermy.                                                                                 
        o Game Management Unit Test:                                                                                            
             square4 Questions specific to a management unit include:                                                           
                  • Location of the nearest medical facility,                                                                   
                  • Air taxi services within the region,                                                                        
                  • Village locations.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:11:43 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL asked what accounts for the length of                                                                           
investigations and backlog that the board is facing.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. BUNCH explained the investigative process as follows:                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
   • The investigative process does not start with the board.                                                                   
   • The investigative process often starts with the Alaska                                                                     
     Wildlife Troopers:                                                                                                         
        o Troopers notify division that an investigation is                                                                     
          starting.                                                                                                             
        o Division does not start their investigation until the                                                                 
          troopers have conducted their case to its entirety:                                                                   
             square4 Troopers can take up to two years to completer                                                             
               their case.                                                                                                      
   • Division's investigator opens a case after troopers have                                                                   
     carried their case to its entirety:                                                                                        
        o Changes made by the division on case management should                                                                
          reduce backlogs considerably.                                                                                         
   • Reviewing board member receives findings from the division:                                                                
        o Registered guide outfitter reviews case findings.                                                                     
        o Two registered guide outfitters are on the board.                                                                     
        o Cases may be held when the registered guide outfitters                                                                
          are in the field:                                                                                                     
             square4 Guides spend five to six months in the field.                                                              
        o Guide outfitters are the subject-matter experts and                                                                   
          it's important  that the  first reviews  go to  them so                                                               
          that they can look at  the case in common sense fashion                                                               
          and  make  a  recommendation based  on  guidelines  and                                                               
          procedures set by the division and the investigators.                                                                 
   • The BGCSB reviews the case information after the guide                                                                     
     outfitter board member's review:                                                                                           
        o Recommendations by the reviewing board member are                                                                     
          reviewed and a decision is made.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BUNCH summarized  that the  case  investigation process  can                                                               
become backlogged  rather quickly,  but steps  have been  made to                                                               
reduce the case backlog.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:16:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI asked  if the board would ever  sanction a guide                                                               
before receiving  the information;  for example, a  criminal case                                                               
from the wildlife troopers.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. BUNCH answered no; the board  will not review cases until the                                                               
cases are reviewed in its entirety.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KAWASAKI addressed the  guide licensing process regarding                                                               
the  oral boards  and asked  if the  three people  proctoring the                                                               
oral boards are board members.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. BUNCH  answered no. He  noted that  only the two  guide seats                                                               
are available  for the  proctor in addition  to proctors  who are                                                               
registered guide outfitter in good standing.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  KAWASAKI  asked  if  the  video  portion  of  the  guide                                                               
licensing process is reviewed directly  by the board or something                                                               
that is administratively done by the division.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:18:58 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BUNCH answered  that the  entire licensing  process starting                                                               
with the oral boards and ending in  the video is done by a three-                                                               
registered-guide  panel. The  registered guides  must be  in good                                                               
standing.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KAWASAKI asked Mr. Bunch to verify that the three-                                                                      
registered-guide panel does not necessarily have to be composed                                                                 
of board members, but the panel can be composed of three-                                                                       
registered guides in good standing.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. BUNCH answered correct.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
He added that he had information to provide the committee                                                                       
members regarding the current status of BGCSB.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL stated that she would like to hear from Mr.                                                                     
Bunch because he is a board member for BGCSB.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:20:40 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. BUNCH said he was appointed to the vacant registered guide                                                                  
seat the previous year and would speak to the board's actions                                                                   
within the last 10 months as follows:                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
   • BGCSB is an important entity to Alaska's big game guide                                                                    
     industry.                                                                                                                  
   • The board is the only venue for which licensees can                                                                        
     communicate with DCCED and its investigative arm.                                                                          
   • The board is responsible for:                                                                                              
        o Testing, certification, and licensing of assistant and                                                                
          registered guides;                                                                                                    
        o Issuing transporter licenses;                                                                                         
        o Reviewing and or adopting regulations for which the                                                                   
          licensees operate within;                                                                                             
        o Establishing and upholding ethics regulations;                                                                        
        o Establishing and upholding contract requirements;                                                                     
        o Regulating disseminated information;                                                                                  
        o Imposing appropriate disciplinary sanctions according                                                                 
          to statutes and regulations.                                                                                          
   • The board finished a complete update to its registered                                                                     
     guide outfitter exam to ensure the board is using up-to-                                                                   
     date information.                                                                                                          
   • The board has put into place a consistent review process                                                                   
     and a means to track inconsistencies in testing:                                                                           
        o Testing information is a constant change that if gone                                                                 
          unattended will quickly be outdated and lose its                                                                      
          effectiveness.                                                                                                        
   • Licensing of guides and transporters is ongoing and                                                                        
     important to the provision of big game services in Alaska.                                                                 
 • License applications are in constant review by the board:                                                                    
        o When questions need answered, the application will go                                                                 
          before the board for further evaluation, resulting in                                                                 
          the division's staff to be cleared.                                                                                   
   • The board establishes and recommends updates to regulations                                                                
     for which licensees are held accountable:                                                                                  
        o The board is reviewing many regulations that are                                                                      
          difficult   to   interpret   by   licensees   and   law                                                               
          enforcement.                                                                                                          
        o The board is working with the divisions, Department of                                                                
          Law,   land  managers,   state  law   enforcement,  and                                                               
          licensees to either propose  cleaner language or simply                                                               
          draft  position   statements  outlining   the  intended                                                               
          meaning of those regulations.                                                                                         
   • The board has a very good relationship with state law                                                                      
     enforcement and the state law enforcement realizes that the                                                                
     board is up to date and very consistent with its fine                                                                      
     structures.                                                                                                                
   • The board is regarded by the division and its investigators                                                                
     as thorough and consistent, an important attribute during                                                                  
     investigative and appeals processes.                                                                                       
   • The board is working hard to find efficiencies in all of                                                                   
     its responsibilities.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:23:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BIRCH commended  Mr. Bunch for his positive  report as well                                                               
as the board for eliminating its million dollars in debt.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL  asked Mr. Bunch  how many states  license guides                                                               
in the manner he detailed.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BUNCH  answered  that  Alaska is  the  "gold  standard"  for                                                               
testing registered guides in the United States.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BISHOP asked  Ms. Curtis  to verify  that there  are 145                                                               
open cases  and inquired if  the amount  was the total  number of                                                               
cases before the board.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CURTIS addressed  page 9,  second  paragraph in  Legislative                                                               
Audit's report  and detailed that  that 233 cases were  "open" or                                                               
"opened" from July 2015 through May 2018.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BISHOP  asked  if  145 cases  were  within  the  180-day                                                               
period.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CURTIS  answered yes.  She  specified  that 233  cases  were                                                               
"open" or "opened"  and 145 cases out of the  233 cases were open                                                               
for over 180 days.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BISHOP  commented that  the  number  of cases  that  Ms.                                                               
Curtis detailed are a lot of  cases. He suggested that the guides                                                               
need to look at tightening the ethics portion of their training.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:25:51 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL  referenced Mr.  Bunch's testimony  regarding the                                                               
investigative  process. She  asked Ms.  Curtis if  the audit  had                                                               
taken into  consideration the  fact that the  board opens  a case                                                               
when the wildlife troopers opens a  case, but the board must wait                                                               
for  the wildlife  troopers and  the division  to complete  their                                                               
investigations.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. CURTIS noted that Mr.  Bunch described a "specific mode," but                                                               
there is  more than  one way  to open a  case and  disclosed that                                                               
complaints are  also made directly  to the  division. Legislative                                                               
Audit   interviewed  wildlife   troopers,   board  members,   and                                                               
investigators. Legislative  Audit is familiar with  how the cases                                                               
also work.  Legislative Audit did  note that there was  a change,                                                               
but the change was not quite how Mr. Bunch described.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
She detailed that  the Alaska Department of Law  changed how they                                                               
processed cases,  noted on  page 9 in  the audit.  The department                                                               
changed the process  where now when a criminal  case is finished,                                                               
a consent  agreement for the  licensing portion can  be presented                                                               
at  the same  time  during  the board's  review  that results  in                                                               
making the  disciplinary process  faster, which is  separate from                                                               
the investigative process.  She reiterated that the  issue may be                                                               
about documentation.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
She disclosed  that there is interaction  between an investigator                                                               
and a wildlife trooper, but the  audit could not tell what degree                                                               
the investigator  reaches out to  the trooper or vice  versa. She                                                               
said  there are  all  types  of ways  where  efficiencies can  be                                                               
gained  through the  investigative process.  Better documentation                                                               
would help  provide an audit  with more information to  nail down                                                               
exactly what the cause of the issue is.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
She  summarized   that  there   is  a  systematic   problem  with                                                               
documentation and how long it takes  for a large bulk of cases to                                                               
move through the process.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:28:24 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR REINBOLD addressed page 11  in the audit report and asked                                                               
Ms.  Curtis   to  review  the   numbers  for   "resident"  versus                                                               
"nonresident."  She  asked if  the  prices  are virtually  double                                                               
between the two license categories.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. CURTIS replied  that the licensing prices appears  to be what                                                               
Senator  Reinbold  pointed  out.   The  reason  for  the  pricing                                                               
difference should be directed to the division.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:29:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SAM  ROHRER, President,  Alaska Professional  Hunters Association                                                               
(APHA), Kodiak,  Alaska, testified in  support of SB 43.  He said                                                               
APHA recommends  that the  sunset for the  BGCSB be  extended for                                                               
the amount recommended by the audit for the following reasons:                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
   • The board is critical to  the long-term  viability of  the                                                                 
     guide industry.                                                                                                            
   • Having well qualified  hunting   guides  is  in  the  best                                                                 
     interest of the state, public, and the commercial game                                                                     
     industry.                                                                                                                  
   • The board maintains the guide testing standards  to ensure                                                                 
     that only qualified applicants are receiving licenses.                                                                     
   • The board ensures that Alaska continues  to have  the most                                                                 
    stringent hunting guide qualifications in North America.                                                                    
   • The guiding  industry   offers   one  of   the  very   few                                                                 
     professional licenses that does not require formal                                                                         
     education but instead is acquired through an apprenticeship                                                                
     process.                                                                                                                   
   • The guide  apprenticeship   process  makes   the  industry                                                                 
     particularly attractive to rural Alaskans.                                                                                 
   • The board provides the only interface between the Division                                                                 
     of Occupational Licensing and the guide industry.                                                                          
   • The board provides the public an opportunity  to influence                                                                 
     the regulations that control the industry.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:33:07 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL asked  Mr. Rohrer  to elaborate  on his  comment                                                               
that the public could participate in the board's committees.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROHRER  answered that the  board uses a  subcommittee process                                                               
for  complicated issues  that might  arise where  the public  can                                                               
participate. Subcommittee issues  include supervision and ethical                                                               
requirements.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   BISHOP  noted   that   there  are   233  guides   under                                                               
investigation  and asked  if APHA  is bothered  by the  number of                                                               
guides being investigated.  He said growing up  he thought highly                                                               
of guides and the number under investigation troubles him.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:35:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ROHRER concurred  with Senator Bishop on his  high regard for                                                               
guides. He  said part of  the backlog on guide  investigations is                                                               
due  to a  wide array  of  investigatory topics  that get  thrown                                                               
together  with   criminal  cases,  such  as   investigations  for                                                               
misstated applications.  APHA is  frustrated with how  slowly the                                                               
investigations move,  but the  law says  people must  be provided                                                               
with  due  process. APHA  believes  that  guides should  be  held                                                               
accountable  for their  actions. APHA  hopes that  investigations                                                               
move  as  swiftly  as  possible, but  guides  should  be  treated                                                               
fairly. APHA  looks to  leadership from  the division  to address                                                               
the case backlog.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:37:53 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BISHOP  said everyone wants a  zero-investigation backlog                                                               
and  asked  what  Mr.  Rohrer  felt  about  a  three-year  sunset                                                               
extension to address the investigation backlog.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ROHRER  replied  that  the  solution  is  not  a  three-year                                                               
extension. He  remarked that  the solution was  for the  state to                                                               
have a concession program and  deny access to certain guides that                                                               
are not allowed on federal land as well. He opined that a state-                                                                
concession  program would  reduce criminal  investigations by  75                                                               
percent and complaints would be reduced drastically.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  REINBOLD  remarked  that  a  two  to  three-year  sunset                                                               
extension would  be appropriate for  the board because  233 cases                                                               
are  open. She  opined  that  the committee  should  talk to  the                                                               
Department of Public Safety regarding the case backlog as well.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:41:28 PM                                                                                                                    
MARK  RICHARDS, Executive  Director, Resident  Hunters of  Alaska                                                               
(RHAK), Fairbanks, Alaska,  testified in opposition to  SB 43. He                                                               
opined that  the board has  the power  but refuses to  limit non-                                                               
resident  hunters  and  enforce  revocation  of  big  game  guide                                                               
licenses. He noted that RHAK  submitted a letter to the committee                                                               
that  detailed  their  recommendations  for  a  guide  concession                                                               
program as well  as license revocations for guides  who have been                                                               
convicted in criminal court.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
He asserted  that the board does  not have the income  to address                                                               
the number of  real complaints and to  enforce their regulations.                                                               
The reason the  board will not revoke certain licenses  is due to                                                               
concerns that the board will  incur court costs from appeals that                                                               
could run well beyond the tens of thousand of dollars.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
He summarized that RHAK believes  BGCSB has too many problems and                                                               
can  only support  a two-year  extension with  the hope  that the                                                               
Division  of Corporations,  Business  and Professional  Licensing                                                               
can address the big game licensing problems.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:45:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL  asked Mr.  Richards if a  license is  a property                                                               
right.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  RICHARDS answered  that a  guide license  is a  professional                                                               
license and  said he does not  know if the license  is a property                                                               
right. He  asserted that only  the board that regulates  the said                                                               
profession can revoke or suspend a license.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL  pointed out  that BGCSB was  over $1  million in                                                               
debt just a few years ago. She  asked Mr. Richards if he knew why                                                               
the  debt accrued.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  RICHARDS  answered  no,  but   it  might  be  attributed  to                                                               
investigative costs  after the board  was allowed to  sunset then                                                               
came back in 2005.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL  offered her belief  that a  lot of the  debt was                                                               
due to  an adjudication for  a guide that  took his case  all the                                                               
way to  the Alaska Supreme  Court, after having  been disciplined                                                               
by a court.  The previous litigious action speaks  to the board's                                                               
fiscal prudence in terms of risk in taking up property rights.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:48:16 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR REINBOLD  emphasized that  there was  due process  in the                                                               
case that RHAK referenced.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:48:48 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BIRCH closed public testimony.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:49:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BIRCH held SB 43 in committee.                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB43 Fiscal Note DCCED CPBL 2.15.19.pdf SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43
SB43 Sponsor Statement.pdf HRES 5/3/2019 1:00:00 PM
SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43
SB43 Big Game Commercial Services Board Sunset Review Audit.pdf SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43
SB43 Alaska Professional Hunters Association Letter 2.15.19.pdf SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43
SB43 Resident Hunters of Alaska Letter 2.18.19.pdf SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43
SB43 Letters to Sen. Wilson 2.19.19.pdf SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43
SB43 Bob Cassell Email 2.19.19.pdf SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43
SB43 Treasure Hunter Lodge Email 2.20.19.pdf SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43
SB43 Paul Ferucci Email 2.20.19.pdf SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43
SB43 Cole Kramer Email 2.20.19.pdf SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43
SB43 Jacob Fletcher Email 2.19.19.pdf SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43
SB43 Joe Klutsch Email 2.19.19.pdf SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43
SB43 Mike McCrary Email 2.19.19.pdf SFIN 4/9/2019 9:00:00 AM
SRES 2/20/2019 3:30:00 PM
SB 43