Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rep. Harris: DOT crackdown 'unacceptable'

Deckboss on Sunday told you about an Alaska Department of Transportation crackdown on fishermen for violations of commercial hauling regulations.

Now state Rep. John Harris, R-Valdez, is proposing legislation to exempt fishermen.

Here's the press release:

Rep. John Harris

Aug. 31, 2009

Harris Prefiling Commercial Fishing Vessel Transport Exemption Legislation

ANCHORAGE — Legislative Council Chair John Harris, R-Valdez, announced today that his office is preparing legislation for next session to exempt commercial fishing vessel owners from Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities regulations covering transportation and hauling requirements.

Harris has ordered the prefiling of the bill after learning DOT Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officers are ready to start citing commercial fishermen.

Fishermen in Cordova and Petersburg recently became aware of DOT's intention to enforce these regulations. Over the weekend, fishermen contacted Rep. Harris and other coastal legislators seeking attention to the administration of the new enforcement policy.

"This administration of these regulations is unacceptable," Harris said. "We're working with commercial fishermen to help DOT do better things with their time than disrupting hard-working men and women from making their living."

"The regulations cover size and weight restrictions and require paperwork and permits that are more traditionally used by standard commercial trucking firms and other businesses," said Harris, a Teamster for 32 years.

Current rules provide exemptions for farm vehicles operating near their own local communities, and these provisions can be applied to similar circumstances for fishermen hauling gear around coastal towns across Alaska.

The regulations being enforced by DOT can be viewed here at the department's measurement standards and commercial vehicle enforcement Web site.

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