By Naomi Klouda
One of the first bills to pass out of the Alaska Legislative House side is HB 80, introduced by Gov. Sean Parnell to roll back the citizens’ 2006 initiative.
The public initiative held the cruise ship industry accountable for the ship discharge in Alaska waters by setting standards for discharge. The industry had from 2006 to 2015 to implement the upgrades to the ships to meet the outflow standard goals.
HB80 removes the requirements and allows cruise ships to discharge wastewater to a much lower standard by allowing wastewater to dilute in Alaska’s waters.
Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, voted against the bill, which passed 27 yes and 10 no, with three excused representatives.
Now on the Senate side, SB 29 was held in the finance committee. District O Sen. Peter Micciche said he wants to add an amendment to the senate version that would exclude Kachemak Bay from any such discharges.
A bill of particular interest to Homer area residents is HB 35, which proposes to help homeowners by supplying low-interest loans for replacing heating appliances.
The Homer City Council approved a resolution in support of the bill, which is sponsored by Tammie Wilson of North Pole. That bill made it to a hearing in the House Energy Committee last night. Homer residents can send a message through www.legis.state.ak.us/poms/ or through Rep. Seaton’s office, fax: 907-465-3472. Or, you can e-mail him at Representative.Paul.Seaton@akleg.gov.
Keep an eye on House Bill 17, which aspires to drop interest rates on student loans administered through the Division of Post Secondary Education.
Currently Alaskans pay interest rates of 7 and 8 percent for outstanding and new student loans. In contrast, used car loans are as low as 3 percent and less.
Many Alaskans are struggling and Alaska has a history of losing those who obtain higher education degrees and job training to jobs outside of Alaska, said the bill’s sponsor, Scott Kawasaki.
This bill restructures Alaska student loans by reducing the principal amount of student loans for residents by 2.5 percent per year.
The borrower must establish and maintain residency for one year prior to obtaining the loan, must maintain residency in Alaska while repaying the loan, and cannot be in default. It also asks for a reduction of principal that is decided by the Commission on Post Secondary Ed.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski helped introduce a number of bills meant to protect Alaska’s fishing industry from foreign and domestic threats in the form of illegal fishing and Genetically Engineered Fish, including GE salmon known as “Frankenfish.”
Likening GE’s to “Jurassic Park’”science, Murkowski with Sen. Mark Begich want to make it illegal to sell, possess, transport or purchase GE fish in the U.S., unless NOAA makes sure it would have no harmful impact on the environment
The other bill requires GE salmon be clearly labeled so consumers can know what they are purchasing.
A week after Murkowski urged the heads of the Senate Appropriations Committee to get clarity on the looming threat of sequestration and undefined across-the-board federal cuts, a hearing was set for Thursday where Cabinet officials will present their spending plans.
With $85 billion in “indiscriminate cuts” to many federal agencies set to begin on March 1, there has been little solid information shared by the administration on how these cuts will be done and where the cuts will be made, Murkowski says.
Federal government accounting for one-third of Alaska’s economy means these cuts have significant meaning for every region and every industry in the state.
Murkowski wants to be able to convey the exact details to Alaska.
Thursday’s hearing will provide, in several cases, the first hard estimates from many agencies with a large Alaskan footprint: Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Office of Management and Budget.
Comments are closed