Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/25/2003 03:35 PM Senate STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        SB  69-BOARD OF FISHERIES CONFLICTS OF INTEREST                                                                     
CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked Senator Wagoner to introduce SB 69.                                                                    
SENATOR THOMAS  WAGONER, bill sponsor, explained  the bill allows                                                               
the members of the Board of  Fisheries to participate and vote on                                                               
matters before the board even though  they may have a conflict of                                                               
interest. They would  be required to disclose  any conflicts they                                                               
may have, but they could then participate.                                                                                      
The  Board  of  Fisheries  is composed  of  individuals  who  are                                                               
selected  due  to  their  expertise in  different  areas  of  the                                                               
fishing industry.  If a member has  a conflict of interest  on an                                                               
issue, it  is likely  that individual  also has  a great  deal of                                                               
knowledge  or  experience   in  that  area.  When   a  member  is                                                               
conflicted out  of an issue before  the board, they may  speak on                                                               
the  topic   for  just  five   minutes  after  which   they  must                                                               
participate as a member of  the public. This is counterproductive                                                               
to the fishing industry.                                                                                                        
SENATOR  JOHN  COWDERY asked  if  members  had to  declare  their                                                               
conflict then  ask permission of  other board members to  be able                                                               
to vote.                                                                                                                        
SENATOR WAGONER replied he was correct.                                                                                         
SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS  said she must have misread  the bill. She                                                               
asked  if there  was the  option  for the  rest of  the board  to                                                               
disallow  the conflicted  member to  vote. She  thought the  bill                                                               
said the member would vote.                                                                                                     
SENATOR WAGONER  acknowledged he misunderstood  Senator Cowdery's                                                               
question and Senator Guess was correct.                                                                                         
CHAIR  GARY STEVENS  recapped  and stated  current  rules do  not                                                               
allow the member to debate from the podium or vote the issue.                                                                   
SENATOR   WAGONER  agreed;   a   conflicted   member  could   not                                                               
participate or speak to the issue as a member of the board.                                                                     
SENATOR  GUESS  announced she  stays  away  from issues  she  has                                                               
expertise in because  it's inappropriate, but she  sees that this                                                               
requirement could present  a problem for the board.  She asked if                                                               
there was a reason this  solution was selected rather than asking                                                               
other board  members to  make a  determination on  a case-by-case                                                               
SENATOR  WAGONER  advised  Ms.  Sutton could  better  answer  the                                                               
question. He was carrying the bill for the Fish Caucus.                                                                         
MS. CHERYL  SUTTON, staff to  Senator Ben Stevens and  the Salmon                                                               
Industry  Task  Force, said  this  was  a subjective  process.  A                                                               
standard was needed  in conflict situations and this  was a clean                                                               
There were no further questions for Ms. Sutton.                                                                                 
MR.  JERRY McCUNE,  United  Fishermen  of Alaska  representative,                                                               
testified in support of SB 69.  Members are selected to the board                                                               
because of their expertise and it  is vital all board members are                                                               
able to participate  in the decision making  process. The present                                                               
system wastes expertise and knowledge.                                                                                          
MS.   CORA   CROME,    Petersburg   Vessel   Owners   Association                                                               
representative, testified in  support of SB 69.  An effective lay                                                               
board  is  dependent  on  the  knowledge  and  expertise  of  its                                                               
members.  Appointees  are  typically selected  because  of  their                                                               
knowledge of  the state's fishery  and this knowledge  is usually                                                               
gained by  participation in  fishery business.  She has  seen the                                                               
board struggle  to make  the best decisions  for a  fishery while                                                               
the board member  who could provide the best advise  to the board                                                               
is sitting in the audience and unable to speak.                                                                                 
MR.  KEN  DUCKETT, executive  director  of  the United  Southeast                                                               
Alaska  Gillnetters  Association,  testified  via  teleconference                                                               
that he agrees with Ms. Crome  and Mr. McCume. He attended recent                                                               
Board of  Fish meetings on  finfish in Ketchikan and  watched the                                                               
board  struggle with  specific local  issues that  the Petersburg                                                               
member could  have easily spoken  to. Unfortunately,  that member                                                               
had to  sit in  the audience and  not participate.  He emphasized                                                               
the Association's support of the bill.                                                                                          
There was no further testimony.                                                                                                 
CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked for a motion.                                                                                          
SENATOR COWDERY made  a motion to move SB 69  from committee with                                                               
individual recommendations  and zero fiscal note.  There being no                                                               
objection, it was so ordered.                                                                                                   

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