The Alaska Legislature’s Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing today (April 3) on House Bill 77, a measure some say would undermine the public’s ability to participate in management decisions related to fishing and hunting resources.
The hearing can be seen and heard online by logging on to “akl.tv” and clicking on Senate Finance Committee.
The 12-page bill itself, introduced at the request of Gov. Sean Parnell, is online at http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=HB%20%2077&session=28
Opponents of the measure, including the Renewable Resources Coalition, have issued a statement saying that HB 77 eliminates rights of an individual or organization to request that water remain in a stream, river or lake for the benefit of fish, wildlife, recreation, transportation and other economic and cultural uses.
HB 77 removes mandatory public notice and public comment periods for preliminary best interest findings and limits who can participate when challenging flawed decisions undermining Alaska’s fishing and hunting resources, the coalition alleges. Testimony is being taken statewide at Legislative Information Offices in Alaska. Comments are also being accepted by Senate Finance Committee co-chair Kevin Meyer at Sen.Kevin.Meyer@akleg.gov
Anyone wishing to submit comments should request that their comments be considered official written testimony on the bill and added to the public record.
The lengthy measure includes a number of amendments to the existing Alaska Land Act, including one in section 40, which authorizes the state, an agency or a political subdivision of the state to apply to the commissioner to reserve water to maintain water level throughout a year or specific times to protect fish and wildlife. The amendment would remove the right of individuals to make such application.