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Peninsula legislators tackle hunting regs, senior benefits in prefiled bills

The Alaska Statehouse in April, 2022.
Riley Board
The Alaska Statehouse in April, 2022.

Two Kenai Peninsula legislators have filed early bills for the 2024 legislative session.

First-term Republican Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, who represents most of the central Kenai Peninsula, has already prefiled four bills for the upcoming session. The first is related to tax exemptions for farm land, and another would allow veterans to access free lifetime passes to state parks and campgrounds.

The next two both relate to hunting regulations. Senate Bill 168 would require the state to provide compensation for wrongfully seized game meat, while Senate Bill 171 would change the residency requirements for in-state hunting and fishing licenses, adding language specifying that a person must be physically present in the state for a 12-month period before applying.

Republican Rep. Sarah Vance, whose district covers the Southern Kenai Peninsula, prefiled House Bill 242, which extends the Alaska senior benefits program. That program pays cash benefits to 65 and up Alaskans with moderate or low incomes. Vance’s bill extends the program, set to expire in June of this year, to 2034.

A legislator from elsewhere in the state has filed a bill targeting the Cook Inlet natural gas crisis. Sutton Republican Rep. George Rauscher, the chair of the House Energy Committee, filed a bill that would end royalties and gas taxes on new wells as long as producers offer the gas to in-state utilities. The idea is that cutting royalties and taxes may incentivize production in the inlet, where lawmakers are trying to stave off a looming shortage of gas.

A second set of prefiled bills will be released on Friday. And since this is the second year of the 33rd legislature, there are also hundreds of bills from the last session still up for consideration.The legislative session begins in Juneau next Tuesday.

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.
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