Time to assess legislative damage

It’s a rare year when the Alaska Legislature finishes on time in 90 days, without plans for a special session. The two previous years saw legislators slip into overtime when Gov. Parnell called them back to look at his unpopular oil tax credit bill. This time, should it be a surprise that a (mostly) obedient Legislature gets to go home on time?
The dust needs to settle from what got kicked up on the Senate and House floors. It will take us a few days, maybe months, to fully understand what’s up and what’s down in terms of the 73 bills passed. But from the position of post-session relief, here’s a short list:

Who are the “friends” of SB 21?

After the thousands of Alaskans who turned out at the Backbone Rallies around the state Thursday, it’s especially hard to understand how Senate Bill 21 meets the regard of so many friends in the Alaska Legislature. This rings true so far not only in its actual provisions but the many amendments Velcroed to it.

Sales tax on ecommerce worth debate

How to make web-based commerce equal to other transactions is a conundrum that evades solution in many industries. Book stores – paying property taxes and what-not – go out of business while Internet giants like Amazon.com prosper. Online publications aren’t the only businesses who have yet to crack the code for making the service equal […]

Taxes and oil companies

For some Homer residents, seeing the back side of the jack-up rig Endeavour will be a welcome sight. For others, it will be regretfully stopped revenue that added to the local economy. Either way, it has spent a long visit at our dock, longer than anyone thought when it arrived. We’ve fielded an inordinate amount […]

Animal bounties belong in Alaska’s dark ages

“The eagle is a curse to the rest of the animal kingdom and the sooner it is exterminated, the better off the game will be,” an assertion in the Valdez Miner read on April 17, 1920.
At the Baranov Museum in Kodiak for many years a full eagle’s feathered wing stood in a corner of a kitchen pantry, frozen in place for the many historical stories it told. During tours of the museum, school children and tourists learned that eagle wings were popular as brooms and a must-have in many homes on Kodiak Island. A bounty on eagles by the U.S. Territorial government that lasted many years rewarded young and old shooters alike with 50 cents per eagle kill. From 1917 to 1953, about 120,195 eagles were killed this way, according to numbers kept by the Territorial Treasury.
The justification for killing bald eagles were many at the time: they killed fox farm pups, sheep, calves, moose, caribou and hauled off more than their share of salmon, according to lore.

Partisan legislature won’t get to decide on school voucher

The education quality debate in America and in Alaska necessarily renews itself in regular cycles. Good idea for educators, parents, politicians and businesses to weigh in their demands. According to consistent studies comparing U.S. academic outcomes with other countries, Americans have fallen woefully behind. This year, the discussion spark is the proposed education voucher system […]

Study shows seafood important as food source

A lot of focus these days looks at regional food security issues. It’s a good idea to take stock of what farming products of meat and vegetables are available locally. If transportation became a barricade due to a natural disaster, how much food is on hand to feed one another. Much of the discussion played […]

Time to investigate health insurance plan for ourselves

Most of what we’ve heard lately on health care cost predictions are speculative comments and dire prognostics on implementing the Affordable Health Care Act. Let’s see this played out in actual shopping transactions – let the market give us a glimpse of how it will work – for more than 125,000 Alaskans – to get insurance.
In this limbo land leading all too quickly toward 2014 when the AHCA goes into effect, most of us are left lacking the basic information about how to proceed.
What we aren’t lacking are warnings from politicians, health insurance companies, big businesses and small businesses.

Who loves Valentine’s Day?

The holiday for expressing love goes beyond couples, at times, to stand as a point in time for expressing a humanitarian love for all kinds of people. In Homer, it’s become traditional to remember a man who stood for the spirit of St. Valentine: Brother Asaiah Bates. Each year in a mayoral proclamation, Valentines Day in Homer is dedicated as Brother Asaiah Day.

Reality, really?

The last few years reality shows featuring Alaska took off big – and they each present a quandary in their own way. Remember when it was ex-Gov. Sarah Palin’s reality show? Hunting, fishing, hiking glaciers – all shown as a family together. Thrilling have-it-all womanhood, Alaska style. The fiction mixed in for creating a dynamic show posed an irritant to most of us like a spring crop of mosquitoes. It confused on the lines between real and unreal. Lesson: if this is what it takes to capture a country’s attention, it won’t be truthful and it will make us cringe.
Along comes the Ice Road Trucker reality series, the Alaska State Troopers series and even one from our end of the road on the homesteading Kilcher family. Now, National Geographic moves in and wants some action on the Russian Old Believer lifestyles. There’s no end to new reality series spins producers are willing to dream up.

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