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Conference committee meets on education

Apr 22, 2014 -- 12:15pm
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - House and Senate negotiators are trying to find common ground on an education package as lawmakers hope to wrap up the extended legislative session. The six-member conference committee, comprised of three representatives and three senators, met for the first time Tuesday, and got a rundown of differences between the House and Senate approaches to HB278. Rep. Mike Hawker, who chairs the committee, said funding is probably the biggest sticking point. The House and Senate took different approaches to providing additional aid to schools. There were some other issues, too, that were flagged for further discussion, including bond debt reimbursement, impact of raising the required local contribution level for schools and teacher tenure. The session was scheduled to end Sunday but ran long after lawmakers failed to reach agreement on education.

Woman gets 'deal of lifetime" in pot sentence

Apr 22, 2014 -- 12:00pm
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A prosecutor concedes he was giving a Juneau woman the "deal of a lifetime" when she was sentenced for a misdemeanor instead of a felony after a pot-grow operation was found in her home. Juneau District Attorney James Scott calls the circumstances surrounding the prosecution of Bonnie E. Odom as a "one-off." He said he agreed to a misdemeanor because she didn't have a criminal record and police only found out about the 55 plants because of an unrelated incident that brought police to her home. The Juneau Empire reports that Alaska law states any more than 25 plants is considered a felony. Her lawyer says she uses the marijuana for medical purposes. She received a year of probation instead of jail time.

Crime bill moves to governor

Apr 22, 2014 -- 11:45am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Alaska Legislature has passed a sweeping crime bill. Lawmakers gave final approval early on Monday morning as they attempted to finish the session within 90 days, but lawmakers weren't able to find common ground on the education bill and capital budget. They remained in session on Tuesday. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the crime bill attempts to address Alaska's growing prison population by keeping low-level offenders out of prison and working on reducing Alaska's recidivism rate. The bill now heads to Gov. Sean Parnell for his signature.
 

Donors to bond groups faces election fines

Apr 22, 2014 -- 11:30am
- ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Some donors to school bond campaigns are facing hefty fines from state election regulators. The Anchorage Daily News reports some could be fined as much as $19,000. State law requires both groups formed to back bond proposals, like School Bonds Yes!, and individual donors of $500 or more to file reports with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. Many contributors to bond groups are engineering firms, like the one owned by Bob Bell. He was also co-chair of Anchorage Bonds Yes!. His firm received notice that it faces a fine of $50 for every day it hadn't reported its donation. The letter noted that was due 381 days earlier. APOC Executive Director Paul Dauphinais says it's not a new law and others have correctly and timely filed their paperwork.
 

House begins debate on capital budget

Apr 22, 2014 -- 11:15am
- JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - One of the last big pieces to be resolved before lawmakers wrap up their work is the capital budget. The House began taking up amendments Monday, while waiting for the Senate to send over an education bill. The capital budget could be a vehicle for additional education funding. A conference committee had been appointed to try to hammer out a negotiated education package. Capital spending in the budget, as it left the House Finance Committee early Monday, was about $2.2 billion. In floor amendments, a provision was stripped that would have appropriated $10,000 to the governor's office for providing information about the possible effects of ballot initiatives.
 

Fairbanks hatchery opens to the public

Apr 22, 2014 -- 11:00am
- FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - The public will have the first opportunity this weekend to tour a $50 million fish hatchery in Fairbanks. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will open the Ruth Burnett Sport Fish Hatchery to the public on Friday. The opening is in conjunction with the opening of the annual Fairbanks Outdoor Show, which also starts Friday at the nearby Carlson Center. The hatchery will offer visitors the opportunity to see where tens of thousands of fish are grown yearly for sport anglers. A 5,000-gallon aquarium with hatchery-raised fish inside will greet visitors entering the building. The hatchery has been open 18 months, but did have funding to staff the visitors center, which is known as the Tanana Valley Fisheries Center. 
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