Governor’s bill would cut CFEC commissioners’ pay

Gov. Bill Walker has introduced a bill to trim the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.

The CFEC, the state agency that manages commercial fishing limited entry permits, is a relatively small agency with an approximately $3.6 million operating budget in the final fiscal year 2017 budget. Walker introduced a set of bills in the House and the Senate on Saturday to cut $78,733 out of the agency’s annual operating budget by reducing pay for the eight positions on the commission from range 27 to range 24, according to the fiscal note attached to the bill, and moving employees from the exempt service to the classified service.

State employees are paid on a spectrum of steps within numerical ranges. As it stands, CFEC commissioners are paid between $8,289 and $9,900 per month, within range 27. Under Walker’s bills, the range would be dropped to between $7,225 and $8,569 per month.

The bill is the latest attempt from Walker’s office to reform the CFEC. An audit of the agency released in 2015 accused the agency of being inefficient and ineffective in its job of adjudicating and administering licenses. Walker signed an administrative order in February 2016 to collapse some of the agency’s functions within the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, raising a cry from commercial fishermen of conflict of interest. A lawsuit filed by Southeast Alaska gillnetter Robert Thorstensen and later joined by the United Fishermen of Alaska opposing the administrative order wound its way through the state courts last year, only to be dismissed in July.

The Legislature has tried multiple times to reform the agency as well. Two bills in 2014 would have completely dismantled the agency and delegated its authority to Fish and Game, but both failed to make it out of committee. Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, introduced another similar bill in 2015 that was also held in the House Resources Committee.

Stutes wrote in her sponsor’s statement on the 2015 bill that eliminating the CFEC would offer significant cost savings to the state by cutting personnel and streamlining the permitting process.

“In times of limited budgetary resources we need to look hard at making cuts to keep vital state services in place and I feel the bill (from 2015) will accomplish exactly that,” she wrote.

Walker’s office didn’t return requests for comment on the bill introduced Saturday. The Legislature has already run past its 90-day limit into an additional 30 days of overtime, tied up in heated debates over how to fix the state’s budget crisis.

The United Fishermen of Alaska made note of the CFEC bill in a legislative update to its members, but President Jerry McCune said the organization didn’t want to make a statement on the bill yet until after the meeting scheduled for April 26. UFA opposed Stutes’ bill in 2015, urging the Legislature to wait until there had been a full analysis of the two audits of the CFEC.

CFEC Commissioner Bruce Twomley declined to comment on the bill.

No hearing had been scheduled for the bill yet as of Wednesday morning.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at

More in News

A stack of the Seward Journal is pictured. The town’s only daily newspaper published its last edition Nov. 27. (Photo via Seward Journal Facebook page)
‘A thing of the past’

Seward Journal calls it quits after struggle to keep newspaper afloat

Tim Navarre and Dana Cannava discuss a preliminary Soldotna route for the Kahtnu Area Transit with Planner Bryant Wright at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Getting people where they need to go

Plans for Kenaitze Indian Tribe’s Kahtnu Area Transit move forward

A state plow truck clears snow from the Kenai Spur Highway on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
DOT identifies roads included in brine reduction plan

The department said its goal is to reduce brine use overall in the region by 40%

Soldotna High School senior Josiah Burton testifies in opposition to the proposed cut of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District theater technicians while audience members look on during a board of education meeting on Monday, March 6, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School board finance group reviews expenditures ahead of upcoming budget cycle

As the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District prepares to grapple with another… Continue reading

Members of the Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee raise hands to vote in favor of a proposal during a meeting at Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Silver salmon, personal use fishing discussed by advisory committee

The group set their recommendations on a variety of proposals to the State Board of Fisheries

Hoses pump water along Patrick Drive to help mitigate flooding near Kalifornsky Beach Road on Friday, July 21, 2023, near Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Borough spent almost $78k responding to flood events during disaster declaration

Most of the funds were spend in the northwest area of Kalifornsky Beach Road

The National Weather Service’s map shows a winter weather advisory, in orange, effective for much of the eastern Kenai Peninsula. (Screenshot)
Heavy snow, blowing winds forecast for Turnagain Pass on Wednesday

Snow accumulations of up to 16 inches are expected

The Kenai Courthouse is seen on Monday, July 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Grand jury adds charges in October killing of Homer woman

The indictment was delivered on Nov. 8

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Anchorage resident arrested in Nikiski after troopers investigate reports of stolen vehicle

Troopers responded to a residential address in Nikiski around 11:30 a.m. after being notified by Sirius XM that a stolen vehicle was there

Most Read