House names malamute state dog

April 6, 2009 

About 50 students at the Polaris K-12 School in Anchorage were in their principal's office Monday morning listening via speaker phone to the debate in the Alaska House on naming the Alaskan Malamute the state dog.

The idea to honor the malamute -- a breed that originated in Alaska -- came from a kindergarten student at the school and was taken up as a school project over the last two years.

Polaris teacher Carol Bartholomew said there was some consternation in the group of second- through fifth-graders when the discussion veered off the dog's historical importance, which was key to their decision to pick the malamute.

So by the time the House voted 31-6 to designate the big, rugged, thick-coated dog as an official state symbol, after turning down two amendments to change it to sled dog or husky, they were on the edge of their seats.

Bill sponsor Berta Gardner, an Anchorage Democrat, said she hopes their work on the bill will inspire the students to become engaged and active citizens.

Bartholomew said it's been a wonderful lesson in how government works.

"It's been something the students have a real passion for, and for them to see how the process works, and that they do have a voice in this society, they saw that come through today. It was pretty important for them," she said.

-- The Associated Press

Committee mulls energy programs

A special House committee on energy is proposing legislation that would consolidate the state's energy programs under one department.

The legislation, introduced Monday, would transfer the Alaska Energy Authority, the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority and certain Alaska Housing Finance Corp. programs such as home energy and weatherization to the proposed Alaska Department of Energy.

Committee Co-chairwoman Charisse Millett, an Anchorage Republican, said it would create a one-stop shop for permits, funding and information for rural residents and help streamline discussion of a statewide energy plan.

The committee will work with the Palin administration and House Finance Committee over the interim to fine tune the legislation for consideration next session.

-- The Associated Press

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