A invoice that handed the Alaska Legislature final 12 months has already began to learn the fishing trade, and extra fishing-specific payments are within the works this 12 months, state lawmakers representing Kodiak mentioned on Friday at an trade convention.
Alaska Senate President Gary Stevens, a Republican main a bipartisan majority, instructed the viewers at ComFish Alaska that he’s notably happy with a invoice he sponsored that expands allowable tax credit for investments in tools to course of seafood past salmon and herring.
The seafood product improvement tax credit score invoice, handed and signed into regulation final 12 months, has “already had an infinite impression, and can have an effect not solely on the processors however the worth to the fishermen,” mentioned Stevens, who spoke by teleconference. “We all know we’re not going to have the ability to produce much more product than we at the moment are, however we will get extra worth out of it, that’s the necessary factor.”
The invoice expanded allowable seafood-production tax credit to investments in tools for pollock, Pacific cod and sablefish, also referred to as block cod. Beforehand, solely salmon- or herring-related investments had been eligible for these credit.
Total, Stevens mentioned, lawmakers are dealing with tough decisions about budgeting, workforce improvement and different points. He mentioned Gov. Mike Dunleavy is working nicely with lawmakers. “I believe he’s keen to cooperate with us and the robust conditions that we’re in,” Stevens mentioned of the Republican governor.
Rep. Louise Stutes, additionally a Republican from Kodiak, listed payments she is attempting to get handed, two of them repeats of earlier years’ payments.
One, Home Invoice 18, would enable regional associations creating new fisheries to type and assess taxes on members to lift cash for administration. Revenues may very well be used to pay for required surveys, for instance, mentioned Stutes, who spoke in particular person on the Kodiak occasion. Members would have the choice to scale back their self-assessed tax, she mentioned.
One other invoice, Home Invoice 19, is a reintroduced model of a invoice that went so far as the Senate Finance Committee final 12 months. Beneath the invoice, homeowners of vessels with present Business Fisheries Entry Fee licenses wouldn’t be required to have their vessels additionally registered with the Division of Motor Automobiles. That extra DMV registration has been required ever since a separate invoice geared toward managing derelict automobiles was handed and signed into regulation in 2018.
A 3rd invoice, Home Invoice 20, would modify conflict-of-interest guidelines for members of the Board of Fisheries and Board of Sport. Stutes has launched comparable payments a number of instances in previous years.
“Consider it or not, I believe I’m going to make one other stab on the conflict-of-interest invoice, of getting it by way of,” she instructed the ComFish viewers. “I’ve excessive hopes, however I’ve had excessive hopes for the final eight years.”
Stutes mentioned her intention is to vary the present requirement that board members with recognized conflicts bodily take away themselves at public conferences from discussions of related topics.
“The conversations nonetheless go on. They only don’t go on in public; they go on behind closed doorways,” she mentioned. The invoice would hold the requirement that board members with conflicts abstain from voting on related topics, however it will enable them to take part within the public discussions, she mentioned. “As a result of what’s the level of being on the board of fish together with your space of experience if you happen to can’t share it?” she mentioned.
Stutes mentioned she and different legislators are skeptical of the Dunleavy administration’s try to achieve state management of wetlands-development allowing at present managed by the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers. That is called Part 404 allowing, after the portion of the federal Clear Water Act associated to dredging and filling of wetlands.
“I might enterprise to say that that’s immediately associated to — that it’s felt — that they might be capable to undo what the feds have achieved and transfer ahead with Pebble Mine challenge,” she mentioned, referring to the Environmental Safety Company’s choice in January to invoke a hardly ever used provision of the Clear Water Act to dam improvement of the controversial Pebble copper and gold mine within the Bristol Bay watershed.
The Dunleavy administration is engaged on a plan to imagine state management of Part 404 allowing, arguing that it’s going to profit the state, and is asking the Legislature for $5 million within the upcoming price range to fund continued work. There are opponents to the plan, together with the environmental group Cook dinner Inletkeeper.
In an emailed assertion, Alaska Division of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jason Brune mentioned EPA’s motion on Pebble and its use of statutory energy to make such selections could be unaffected by state assumption of 404 allowing powers. “State-run packages are particularly prohibited, by regulation (40 CFR 233.30(c)), from issuing, or attempting to re-issue, a 404 allow in the sort of state of affairs,” Brune mentioned by electronic mail.
Although fishers and fishing teams celebrated EPA’s choice on the Pebble Mine, Dunleavy, Brune and different prime administration officers harshly criticized it, and Dunleavy introduced his intention to file a lawsuit over the matter.
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