There’s a bill in the Legislature that Kenai Peninsula residents should keep an eye on, because it would address one of the biggest concerns with the manner in which the Board of Fisheries develops regulations.
House Bill 103 was introduced by Tammie Wilson, a Republican lawmaker representing Fairbanks and North Pole. The measure is short — just seven lines, 10 if you count the title — but would prevent the Board of Fisheries and Board of Game from enacting, amending or repealing regulations unless that action has been recommended by a Fish and Game advisory committee, a state agency or a person petitioning the boards.
What the bill would prohibit is board-generated proposals, which have, over the past several years, effectively silenced the voice of the people in what is frequently touted as a shining example of an open public process. In its last Upper Cook Inlet meeting in 2014, the fish board made drastic changes to commercial fishery regulations via board-generated proposals. Those proposals were not reviewed by local advisory committees or commented on by members of the public.
That’s not how the process is supposed to work. As Wilson said in a story by the Associated Press, the boards are intended as a way for the public to speak, not for the boards to make rules on their own.
The House Special Committee on Fisheries will sponsor a public hearing to discuss HB 103 at 10 a.m. on Thursday. Those wishing to offer testimony can do so at the Legislative Information Office on Main Street Loop in Kenai, where the hearing will be available via teleconference.
And if you think this bill sounds like a good idea, be sure to let your legislators know. Lawmakers have a great deal on their plates right now, but this bill appears to be a rational solution to a real problem and is worth the Legislature’s consideration.