Oil tax discussion continues, health bills up for scrutiny

HOMER TRIBUNE/File photo - Sen. Gary Stevens, right, voted against SB21 and delivered a speech about the necessity to distrust oil companies. With Rep. Paul Seaton, he is depicted here visiting with the Homer City Council.

HOMER TRIBUNE/File photo - Sen. Gary Stevens, right, voted against SB21 and delivered a speech about the necessity to distrust oil companies. With Rep. Paul Seaton, he is depicted here visiting with the Homer City Council.

Now that the Alaska Senate has passed Senate Bill 21, its examination has begun in the House Resource Committee.
On Friday, the committee began its hearing of the oil tax proposal. Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, sits on the committee. He said the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Revenue presented an overview of the program. The major points of the program are as enumerated by Seaton:
• Eliminate progressivity and instead implement a 35-percent flat tax.
• Disconnect community revenue sharing with the eliminated progressivity.  Revenue sharing for cities now aren’t connected to a funding source, leaving that program vulnerable.
• Eliminates Qualified Capital Expenditure credits. 
• Provide a 35-percent Loss Carry Forward Credit which is not connected to future production.
• A $5 per barrel non-transferable tax credit. 
• A 20-percent Gross Revenue Exclusion on all new oil production.
• Establish a nine-member oil and gas competitiveness review board to advise the legislature.
“We will continue our review of SB 21 this week with meetings scheduled for every day of the week.  We will hear from our consultants, as well as the oil and gas industry on the impact of SB 21,” Seaton said. 
All materials will be made available to the public at http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?bill=SB%20%2021&session=28

Health organizations around the state are eyeing bills in progress for how they may impact future policies at clinics and hospitals. Here’s a round up a few highlighted by the Alaska Health Policy Review and passed along by Homer’s MAPP project.
HB90 asks for a study on newborn babies tested for low baseline levels of vitamin D. Sponsored by Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, the measure would be a temporary law, establishing a year-long project. The samples collected during the testing period would be sent to a laboratory.
“By testing across the wide spectrum of locations and population groups, we will gain insight into how our population is affected by Alaska’s northern latitude and which subgroups are at a greater risk of vitamin D deficiency,” Seaton wrote in his sponsor statement.
The object is to find out if the Alaskan Newborn test results demonstrate links between neural development and vitamin D levels. A vitamin D deficiency may be a limiting factor in reaching the State’s educational goals, Seaton said.  
Sen. Kurt Olson introduced HB7, a bill that would allow naturopathy practitioner to prescribe remedies. It also expands the definition of naturopathy to mean the use of hydrotherapy, a dietetic remedy, an herbal remedy, a homeopathic remedy, electrotherapy and sanitation. It also includes “mechanical and manual manipulation for stimulation and physiological and psychological action to establish a normal condition of mind.”

Restrict Medicaid payment for abortions

SB 49 was last heard March 3 in the Judiciary Committee. It would define “medically necessary abortions” for purposes of making payments under the state Medicaid program. Since elective procedures aren’t funded by state programs, this relates only to cases where incest, rape or health risks make an abortion necessary.
HB88 refers to the term “Mental Retardation” as an inappropriate title for mentally challenged individuals and would replace the designation in state statutes. The passage of this bill would force a change in the statute language Most of the legislatures in the House are signed on to this bill as sponsors. A matching bill is in the Senate, introduced by Sen. Kevin Meyer.
HB96 addresses banning children’s products that contain certain chemicals, introduced by Rep. Geran Tarr. One of the most highly recognized chemicals of concern is bisphenol A, better known as BPA. This toxin is found in products made from polycarbonate plastic, which includes baby food containers, teething rings, and plastic children’s toys.
Studies have shown that BPA mimics the hormone estrogen, and can harm brain development, learning and cognitive behavior, fat metabolism, cause early puberty, and lead to increased cancer susceptibility. Some 18 states have already passed laws banning these products.
“It is time for Alaska to join the ranks of other states unwilling to wait for the federal government to enforce regulations of toxins in products,” Tarr writes.
A passage of this bill would add it as an unlawful act to the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act.
A bill to target sexual orientation discrimination, HB139, proposes to give the Alaska Commission for Human Rights added powers and duties.
Sponsored by Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, the bill would add to state statute that already prohibits discrimination based upon race, religion, color, national origin, physical or mental disability, age, sex, marital status, changes in marital status, pregnancy or parenthood.
House Bill 139 would protect citizens from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, financing or credit based upon sexual orientation.
The State of Alaska has already taken steps to prevent discrimination with a 2002 administrative order that provides protection against sexual orientation discrimination for employees of the state and those they serve. In 2010, the University of Alaska amended its anti-discrimination policy to include protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
HB45, dealing with electronic bullying in schools, hasn’t made much traction. It was read for the first time on Jan. 16 and moved to the Education Committee. It mandates that any school employee, student, or volunteer who has witnessed, or has reliable information that a student has been subjected to harassment, intimidation, or bullying shall report the incident to an appropriate school official. The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District also has a measure to address school cyber bullying.
Gov. Parnell put forth HB73, a bill that stiffens penalties for felony sex trafficking and felony human trafficking. It would allow the state to collect forfeiture for certain crimes involving prostitution. It also addresses domestic violence by imposing rules on conditions of release. The bill gives more power to prosecutors when they collect private communications for certain sex trafficking or human trafficking offenses. It also allows judges to consider the effect of a crime on the victim when sentencing and it would refer sexual felonies to a three-judge panel. The bill aims to strengthen protection for victims in protective orders for stalking and sexual assault. It also would make it mandatory for athletic coaches to report child abuse or neglect.
SB36, sponsored by Sen. Johnny Ellis and Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, creates a “missing vulnerable adult response plan.”
The plan would be similar to the “Amber Alert” system for missing children. SB 36 creates rapid response and notification plans for law enforcement to activate when a vulnerable adult goes missing. The bill’s protections would apply to senior citizens with dementia, adults with developmental disabilities, veterans suffering from PTSD, and other disabled adults who go missing.

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Posted by on Mar 27th, 2013 and filed under More News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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