The Alaska Legislature hit its halfway point this week, heading toward the April 15 session end. The Senate will take the lead on oil taxes as legislative leaders look at spreading the workload and which bills should move.
An abortion bill, school vouchers and budget closeouts are among the highlights this week.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing today on a bill that would define “medically necessary” abortions. SB49 pertains to which abortions Alaska must pay for under the State Medicaid program. It states that the Department of Health and Social Services may not pay for abortion services under the program, unless those abortions are medically necessary or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.
Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, also announced plans for hearings on school vouchers. This came just days after a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow public money to be used for private schools was pulled from his committee. This was done without his advance knowledge, while he was out of town. The first discussion is scheduled for Friday.
They also will focus on budget closeouts: A number of House finance subcommittees plan to close out their work on departmental budgets this week. That is a precursor to the House Finance Committee putting together its version of a state operating budget. House Speaker Mike Chenault said he thought the full committee would have a bill in front of them by around March 11, with a floor vote on the bill possible later.
School was canceled in Seldovia on Monday after a power outage extended from Seldovia to McKeon Flats and affected 510 HEA members. The outage, which began about 8 p.m Sunday, was caused by a fault on the main powerline somewhere between Jakolof Bay and McKeon Flats. HEA crews patrolled the line to locate the problem and make repairs.
The Gerry Willard Generation Plant in Seldovia is unable to provide backup power due to a problem with a large electrical breaker at the power plant.
The Rasmuson Foundation made 32 Tier 1 awards in the fourth quarter of 2012 totaling $579,034. The Foundation handed out 132 awards totaling nearly $2.6 million for the entire year.
The Homer Public Library received $18,852 for collection enhancement, while Homer Hockey Association was awarded $21,000 for ice rink repairs and upgrades to Kevin Bell Arena.
The Tier 1 program is a cornerstone of Rasmuson Foundation’s grant-making, and provides grants up to $25,000 for capital projects, technology upgrades, capacity building, program expansion and creative works. Applications are accepted year-round.
The entire HEA area experienced and outage Sunday morning but power was restored an hour later.
Homer Electric Association is accepting nominations from members interested in running for a seat on the cooperative’s Board of Directors. The cooperative’s Board is made up of nine directors, three from each of the three districts that make up the service area.
This year, the District 1 (Kenai-Nikiski-parts of Soldotna) seat held by Kenai resident Bill Warren will be on the ballot. In District 2 (Soldotna-Sterling-Kasilof area), the seat currently held by Sterling resident Debbie Debnam will be up for election. Director Debnam has served three consecutive terms and is not eligible for re-election due to term limits. In District 3 (Kasilof-Homer-Seldovia area), HEA members will vote for the seat currently held by Bill Fry of Homer.
Members interested in being on the ballot must fill out a candidacy packet that requires the candidate to gather at least 15 signatures from current HEA members that live in the district where the candidate resides. The candidacy packet is available at HEA offices in Kenai and Homer, as well as online at www.homerelectric.com.
Kachemak Emergency Service Area Board will hold a board meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The meeting will be held at the McNeil Canyon Fire Station, 53048 Ashwood Ave. (Mile 12 East End Road). The public is welcome to attend. For more information, call 235-9811.
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