UFA Legislative Update: June 6, 2016

Fish taxes HB 4006 on House floor – today.

Contents:

  1. Short Version: let your House representatives know how you feel about increased fishery taxes
  2. Special Session Summary – Fish Taxes
  3. Income Tax – Fishing crew withholding and employer/employees removed
  4. Operating Budget
  5. Fish-related bill that passed
  6. Bills that did not pass
  7. Appointment Confirmations

  1. Short version: Contact your legislators: Let your House Representative know how you feel about increased fishery taxes, as HB 4006 is headed for House floor vote, in second reading, with possible amendments, and may or may not come to a vote – today beginning at 1:00 PM.

Gavel to gavel coverage should be available…

  1. Special Session Summary – Fish Taxes:

Governor Walker called the legislature back for a special session of up to 30 days beginning on May 23, immediately after the end of the 121 day extended regular session. Walker introduced House and Senate versions of an omnibus tax bill from the Administration – HB 4001 and SB 4001 – combining fisheries, mining, income, motor fuel, alcohol and marijuana taxes, and more.

These were heard in House Finance committee on May 24 and Senate Labor and Commerce on May 25. UFA pointed out that the unworkable withholding provisions on crew payments and classification of fishermen as employers/employees was still included – even though the Department of Revenue presentation showed their intention to remove it.

This week a standalone income tax bill HB 4004 was introduced and heard in House Finance on June 2. This version is finally corrected to remove this section – and is currently in House Finance committee awaiting possible amendments.

HB 4006 standalone Fisheries Taxes was introduced on May 27 and first heard in House Finance on June 1, along with standalone versions of the Motor Fuel Tax HB 4003 and Mining Tax HB 4005.

In addition to fisheries taxes, HB 4006 had the added provision to remove the CFEC permit fee cap of $3000. UFA opposed this provision and highlighted testimony from Alaska based fishermen that would be affected – especially Kodiak based operations that have multiple family member skippers, each of whom will be required to hold a permit, unless the permit is put in another person’s name such as an engineer who would be on the vessel for all trips. Representatives Munoz and Stutes put in a yeoman’s effort to amend the legislation to remove this, though it failed in the committee by one vote.

HB 4006 Amendments were posted on May 29 and heard on June 1. The UFA Board met that day by teleconference and moved to “oppose any increases in the Fisheries Business or Resource Landing tax that disproportionally distribute the tax burden across fishery sectors.”

HB 4006 Fisheries tax bill without any of the proposed amendments, as well as the HB 4003 Motor Fuel tax and HB 4005 Mining tax bills were all passed out of House Finance yesterday (June 2), with most committee members noting they would be voting no on the House Floor and some discussion of not being bullied by the governor demanding the advance the three to a floor vote.

These three bills are now in House Rules awaiting transmittal to the floor. Many legislators have said they will be voting against them.

Contact your legislators: Let your House Representative know how you feel about increased fishery taxes.

  1. Income Tax – Fishing crew withholding and classification as employer/employees removed

HB 4004 standalone Income tax bill was first heard in House Finance, and this version is corrected to remove the unworkable withholding provisions on crew payments and classification of fishermen as employers/employees (that UFA spotted as an error in the omnibus bill).  It is currently in House Finance committee awaiting possible amendments.

  1. Operating Budget

CONFERENCE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 256  Operating budget Conference Committee Substitute –passed and sent to the Governor on May 31, 2015, just in time to avoid termination noticed to state employees. Thanks to Senator Lyman Hoffman for holding onto ADFG & ASMI funding. Final numbers from the bill (subject to Governor’s approval) include:

 

CCSHB256                                        Appropriation           General Fund           Other funds

 

ASMI                                                  22,948,200                  3,428,400                    19,519,800

House version                                     21,895,100                  2,399,900                    19,495,200

Senate Version:                                   22,923,600                  3,428,400                    19,495,200

 

ADFG Comfish:                                69,529,800                  49,812,500                  19,717,300

House version                                     69,592,900                  49,856,800                  19,736,100

Senate Version:                                   69,192,900                  49,456,800                  19,736,100

 

Statewide Support Services              38,673,600                  12,342,100                  26,331,500

House version:                                    38,713,900                  12,371,600                  26,342,300

Senate Version:                                   38,713,500                  12,727,400                  25,986,100

 

Sport Fisheries                                   47,423,200                  4,133,300                    43,289,900

Sport Fisheries – House                      47,411,000                  4,196,500                    43,214,500

Sport Fisheries – Senate                      46,411,000                  4,140,700                    42,270,300

 

(Note that General Fund in the bill includes Unrestricted General Fund (UGF) and Dedicated General Funds such as CFEC & license receipts)

 

Final Budget Allocations (pending approval by Governor): 

Final                Original Governor’s Proposed

Southeast Region Fisheries Mgmt:                  13,115,800     13,127,300

Central Region Fisheries Mgmt:                      10,410,800     10,434,800

AYK Region Fisheries Mgmt:                         9,735,000       9,755,200

Westward Region Fisheries Mgmt:                 14,268,600     14,282,800

Statewide Fisheries Mgmt:                              18,305,600     18,333,000

Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission:      3,694,000       3,659,800

Commissioner’s Office:                                   1,651,100        1,647,400

 

Administrative Services                                  12,032,400      12,044,600

Boards of Fisheries and Game:                       1,309,800        1,311,500

Advisory Committees                                     546,700           548,400

Habitat                                                            6,040,700        6,257,000

State Subsistence Research                             6,953,600        7,270,700

Sport Fisheries                                                47,423,200      42,180,300

 

FY2015           FY2016           FY2017(Gov amended)            FY2017(legislature)

Overall ADFG Budget (UGF):         79,387,800      65,095,400      57,730,200                              55,530,200

 

These numbers are from Legislative Finance:

FY2015-FY2017 Budget Review Summary by Department – UGF Only, 12-9-15  (OMB)

 

For complete Legislative Finance FY 2017 Conference Committee Operating Budget Reports, see

http://www.legfin.akleg.gov/BudgetReports/LY2016/Operating/ConfComm/DisplayReports.php

 

Noteworthy Intent Language included in final operating budget bill:

“It is the intent of the legislature that retaining the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission allocation under the Commercial Fisheries Appropriation does not diminish or affect the Commission’s statutorily designated budgetary or operational autonomy or authority; nor does it grant the Commissioner of Fish and Game or his designee any budgetary or operational control over the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission…” 

“It is the intent of the legislature that the department evaluate consolidation and reorganization of research and surveying staff between Commercial Fisheries, Sport Fisheries, and Wildlife Conservation in order to avoid duplicative efforts and find cost savings, and report its findings to the Finance Committee Co-Chairs for the next legislative session.

 

“It is the intent of the legislature that the department evaluate the use of unmanned aircraft for aerial survey work and report findings in regard to safety and cost-savings in comparison with the use of manned aircraft to the Finance Committee-Co-Chairs by the next legislative session.”

For details see bill text at CONFERENCE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 256 – ADFG begins on page 15 and DCCED begins on page 5.

 

Other Legislative Actions:

  1. Fish-related bill that passed in the 29th Legislative Session:

HB 137  Sportfish license fees…

HB 128 Alaska Wild Salmon Day – AUGUST 10!

  1. Bills that did not pass – With the close of the extended session, other fisheries related bills will not be advanced, including:

SB 42  Personal Use sportfish priority  (UFA opposed)

HJR 23 IUU fishing resolution

HJ16 – Transboundary mines resolution (UFA supported)

HB 92: Label genetically modified food

HB 112 CFEC repeal (UFA opposed)

HB 233 Climate Change Commission

HB 258: Ban sale of genetically modified fish

HB 300 and SB 172 Shellfish mariculture (UFA supported)

HB 366 Community Permit Banks

HB 220 Fisheries enhancement permits

SB 163 and HB 283   Outstanding National Resource Waters (UFA opposed as written and offered comments)

SB 198 – 12.5 percent Fisheries Tax (UFA opposed  – this bill was not heard in committees of referral)

  1. Appointment Confirmations

Renee Alward was confirmed for the Fishermen’s Fund Advisory Panel and Robert Ruffner, Al Cain, and Israel Payton were confirmed for the Board of Fisheries.  UFA supported Alward, Ruffner and Cain.

We wish you all a very productive and safe summer and year-round fishing season, with ample harvests and good prices!

-Jerry McCune,

UFA President

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