32nd Legislature

Photo: KTOO file photo

Alaskans can expect their Permanent Fund Dividend checks in mid-October. The Legislature signed off on $1,100 PFDs this week.

It was a scramble to get the PFD plan across the finish line in the final hours of the Legislature’s third special session.


Photo: KTOO file photo

Eight Alaska lawmakers are meeting this month to talk through big-picture fiscal issues that have stumped Legislatures for years. 

The Comprehensive Fiscal Plan Working Group is bringing together lawmakers from each of the four caucuses to create recommendations on the state’s budget problems. The plan is to bring those recommendations to the broader Legislature ahead of the Aug. 2 special session in Juneau. 


The Alaska House has voted to avert a state government shutdown.

In a Monday floor session, the House voted 28 to 10 to allow the budget bill to go into effect Thursday, July 1. Among the no votes were all the peninsula’s House representatives — Ben Carpenter, of Nikiski, Ron Gillham, of Soldotna, and Sarah Vance, of Homer.

Gavel Alaska

Soldotna’s Kristie Babcock was confirmed to the Alaska Judicial Council today in a tight vote by the Alaska Legislature.

Babcock, who runs a State Farm Insurance agency in Kenai, was among a slew of appointees confirmed Tuesday from Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy. She’s married to Tuckerman Babcock, the former chair of the Alaska Republican Party and Dunleavy’s former chief of staff.

Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas

Oil and gas leasing isn’t allowed in Kachemak Bay. The state blocked development there after an oil rig got stuck and leaked oil into the bay in 1976.

But legislation proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy would allow the state to sell subsurface gas-only leases in part of Kachemak Bay, so oil and gas companies could drill into undersea reservoirs from miles away.

More broadly, the bill would permit subsurface leasing and drilling where surface drilling is currently prohibited. And the bill’s opponents say that would unravel state restrictions meant to protect wildlife.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

A delayed state budget process could result in temporary layoffs, or “pink slips,” for Alaska's teachers. It’s what happens when the Legislature is behind in its budgeting and school districts can’t guarantee teachers spots on the payroll for the fall.

A bill the House of Representatives passed this week, House Bill 169, would preempt those layoffs, funding public education sooner than the rest of the budget.

KTOO file photo

Several Alaska Republican legislators have signed on to a bill defending what they call “COVID-19 immunization rights.” 

Representatives Ben Carpenter, of Nikiski, Sarah Vance, of Homer and Chris Kurka, of Wasilla, are sponsoring House Bill 175. 

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Freshman Republican Rep. Ron Gillham held a town hall in his home district this weekend to catch community members up on what he’s been doing in Juneau.

Before an unmasked crowd at The Catch in Soldotna, Gillham spoke about the new bills he’s brought forward since beginning his term.

“We started out just kind of small," he said.

KTOO file photo

Legislative staff in Juneau get tested for coronavirus every five days.

“It’s not an abnormal thing, we just go get tested," said Mary Jackson, a legislative staffer from Kenai.

An Alaska resident last year would have to pay $29 for a sport fishing license. Same goes for the 14 years before that. 

This year, the same license costs $20. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game scrapped the surcharge after paying off a bond debt on the construction of two hatcheries.

But the reduction might just be temporary. Legislators are considering levying another, smaller surcharge on those licenses this summer. This time, the charge would fund maintenance projects at sport fish hatcheries around the state. 


State of Alaska

Freshman Soldotna Republican Rep. Ron Gillham has introduced a bill to broaden eligibility for free hunting and sport fishing licenses to more veterans and members of the military. 

The state already offers complimentary hunting and fishing licenses for Alaska residents actively serving in the Alaska National Guard and U.S. military reserves, as well as veterans who are at least “50 percent disabled.” Non-residents who are stationed in Alaska also get discounted rates for those licenses.

Gavel Alaska

A quarter way into the legislative session, Alaska House representatives have their committee assignments. That means they can start considering and passing bills next week.

Nikiski Republican Rep. Ben Carpenter is returning to the House Finance Committee. He was on that committee in his first term as representative. It’s scheduled to meet Monday.

Gavel Alaska

The Alaska Senate reconvened in Juneau today and unanimously chose Soldotna Republican Sen. Peter Micciche as its president.

 


MeWe

Local lawmakers are among the millions of conservatives flocking to Parler and MeWe, unregulated social media sites that have become increasingly popular as mainstream social media companies crack down on election misinformation and extremism.

Redoubt Reporter

Soldotna Republican Sen. Peter Micciche is again moving to establish a buyback program for set-net permits in Cook Inlet.

The program would reduce the number of commercial set-net fishermen on the east side of the inlet. Proponents of the bill, like Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association Director Ken Coleman, say that’s to reduce pressure and create a more sustainable fishery in an area that’s been under stress for years.

“Our thought was if we could reduce our numbers, then those who would be left behind in a reduction scenario, assuming that some people would leave the fishing community, that those that are left behind would have a better chance for ongoing financial viability," he said.