We are one third of the way through session and tackling some of the larger issues the legislature is facing this year like the operating budget and resource allocation.
The House Fisheries Committee heard and passed two bills. House Bill 41, “Sport Fishing Services,” raises the cost of sport fish guide licenses to cover the costs of administering and overseeing the sport fish program. This bill was widely supported by sport fishing guides as their licensure ensures adequate levels of safety and professionalism are met for their clients. House Joint Resolution 7: “Oppose Aleutian National Marine Sanctuary”, is a statement against the Feds creating reserves in Alaska with little or no local input. This legislation saw support from many communities, tribes, and tribal corporations in the Aleutian region. We also heard House Bill 103 which limits the Boards of Fish and Game from self-generating proposals without substantial public input. HB 103 was heard and held in committee.
My first piece of personal legislation, House Bill 112, “Repeal CFEC, Transfer Functions to ADFG” was introduced this week. This bill eliminates the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC) and transfers the responsibilities of managing limited entry to the Department of Fish and Game. I anticipate a more streamlined limited entry program while creating a significant cost savings to the state.
The Fisheries Committee hosted presentations by the Dept. Fish and Game and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. The Maritime Workforce Development Plan also made a presentation aimed at getting young people and veterans into skilled jobs in the maritime industry. Our next presentation is by the CFEC on Tuesday February 24th and the Board of Fish is on March 10th, so mark your calendars.
State of the Salmon
This March the House Fisheries Committee will be hosting a “State of the Salmon” meeting. Salmon fisheries make up 60% of the jobs in Alaska’s fishing industry (Dept. of Labor, 2013) and are important for economic, social and cultural reasons. I’ve invited various groups to give the committee their input on current and future issues facing salmon. If you are involved in the salmon fishing industry, or if you subsistence fish for salmon, give me a call. I’d like to hear from you!
Times are lean and the capital and operating budgets will be small in comparison to previous years. The Legislature and the Governor are aware how important commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries are for Alaska and I will continue to advocate for continued funding for programs that benefit our fish.
Tracking legislation and using BASIS
Bills and resolutions that move through the legislature can become laws that affect you. Getting involved in the legislative process is easy with an internet connection. Check out the Bill Action Status Inquiry System (BASIS) on the State Legislature website: http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/. BASIS allows you to find information for a bill, including its bill number, title, committees of referral, fiscal notes, and supporting documents. Enter a bill name or number in the search bar and BASIS will give you the info you need. Additionally you can use the Bill Tracking Management Facility to set up email alerts for a particular bill when we take action on it. If you don’t have an internet connection, your local LIO can set you up with everything you need.
You can contact me anytime by calling the office at 907-465-2487. Additionally, my email is Rep.Louise.Stutes@akleg.gov. If you happen to be in Juneau I would love to sit down for a chat. Stop by the State Capitol; I’m in room 416.