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Lawmakers discuss proposed new marijuana board

Mar 04, 2015 -- 5:15pm
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Lawmakers discussed Wednesday who would sit on a new marijuana board, and what it might cost the state, during a first hearing on a bill that would create a new regulatory body. Gov. Bill Walker introduced companion bills in the House and Senate to create a five-member marijuana board that would share staff and resources with the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control board. It was discussed Wednesday in House Labor and Commerce. The board would include a member each from the public safety and health sectors; one from a rural area; one or two from the marijuana industry; and one or two from the general public. Costs associated with the board are estimated at $1.6 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

Medicaid expansion event brings out lawmakers, Davidson

Mar 04, 2015 -- 5:00pm
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Legislators, aides and others heard an alternate viewpoint on Medicaid expansion from a senior fellow with an organization that has referred to the "dangers" expansion poses in states that opt for it. Christie Herrera, with the Foundation for Government Accountability, spoke to problems that she said some states have experienced. Herrera spoke during an informal "lunch and learn," sponsored by Sen. Mike Dunleavy. State health commissioner Valerie Davidson, who also attended, questioned Herrera's use of data in Arizona and Maine, which expanded Medicaid on their own and not under the federal health care law. Herrera said those states, billed as cautionary tales, provide a longer-term view of data. Gov. Bill Walker is planning town-hall meetings to tout the benefits of expansion and rally support as lawmakers consider it.

Lawmaker wants to limit seine vessel length

Mar 04, 2015 -- 4:45pm
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A Ketchikan lawmaker is proposing that no seine vessels longer than 58 feet can fish in state salmon fisheries. Rep. Dan Ortiz said the bill he introduced Wednesday would protect fishing and processing opportunities for Alaskans by limiting the size of boats seining for salmon. The bill would remove language from state law that enables the Board of Fisheries to allow longer vessels. Ortiz said the bill was not intended to limit the board, but responded to a community concern. Ortiz said the larger boats take more of the catch, which can limit opportunities for fishermen with smaller boats, and that a longer seiner might process on board, taking jobs out of coastal communities. The board is expected to consider a proposal addressing seine lengths in March.

Pay raise issue gets attention in budget hearing

Mar 03, 2015 -- 11:45am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Proposed cuts equal to employee raises in the departments of administration and education weren't included in a draft operating budget before the House Finance Committee. Rep. Lynn Gattis proposed such cuts in those departments' budgets during the subcommittee process. She questioned raises in a time of cuts. But as the committee heard subcommittee reports Monday, the Wasilla Republican said the issue needs to be addressed statewide, rather than in individual departments, and is better evaluated through legislation or standing committees. House Finance co-chair Steve Thompson said there are legal problems with freezing one department's salaries and not another's. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that Alaska State Employees Association Executive Director Jim Duncan said the contractual raises have been honored for two years and should be honored this coming year.

Ketchikan assembly approves creation of advisory pot panel

Mar 03, 2015 -- 11:30am
- KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly has approved creation of a local marijuana advisory committee to deal impacts from the recent legalization of marijuana in the state. Ketchikan radio station KRBD reports the original proposal for the local panel called for eight members. The final vote on the issue that narrowly passed Monday settled on seven committee members to avoid tie votes. Borough Mayor David Landis broke a tied assembly vote to pass the seven-member committee proposal. Landis will appoint members to the panel, choosing representatives from the Borough Assembly, the Ketchikan School Board and the communities of Ketchikan and Saxman after first collecting nominations.

Caribou antlers abundant in Alaska sale of animal parts

Mar 03, 2015 -- 11:15am
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - An abundance of caribou antlers highlighted this year's Alaska Hide and Horn Auction, the state sale of seized pelts and antlers.  KSKA-radio in Anchorage reports 3,000 pounds of caribou antlers were among items auctioned Sunday during Anchorage Fur Rendezvous festivities. Most were from one criminal case. Alaska State Troopers in 2011 seized 2,000 pounds of antlers being shipped from Selawik. It's illegal to buy or sell raw antlers not naturally shed in the Northwest Arctic Borough. Lots of 10 antlers were sold for as much as $750. The state also sold about 50 bear hides, along with parts from beaver, wolves, Dall sheep and musk ox.
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