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Coastal management bill chances dimming

JUNEAU

Coastal management bill chances dimming

Prospects for a coastal management bill passing the Legislature this session seem to be dimming.

Co-chair of the House Resources Committee Eric Feige says Rep. Bob Herron is rewriting the bill, and Feige says he's committed to a hearing. But 2 1/2 weeks remain in the session, and Feige says once the Senate sends over an oil tax bill, the committee's attention will be focused on that.

Bruce Botelho, a leader of a ballot group seeking to re-establish a coastal management program, says barring some "extraordinary development," he doesn't see the bill reaching the House floor.

The initiative will appear on this year's ballot unless the Legislature pre-empts it by passing substantially similar legislation.

Botelho and others hoped for a legislative resolution, noting the potential for a tough, expensive campaign.

-- Associated Press

Redistricting likely won't pass muster

A consultant to the Alaska Redistricting Board says a plan drawn strictly with constitutional requirements in mind likely would not meet federal voting rights standards.

Lisa Handley told the board, in a written report, that a plan it is working from likely wouldn't get preclearance from the U.S. Justice Department.

The Alaska Supreme Court ordered the board to follow the process laid out in an earlier case. That means the board is to design a plan focusing on state constitutional requirements.

The board adopted such a plan Tuesday as a starting point. It was then to determine whether that plan complies with federal law.

If it doesn't, the board is to make revisions deviating from the constitution when deviation is the only means available to meet federal voting act requirements.

-- Associated Press

UA researchers seek to study Alaska school finances

Researchers from the University of Alaska want to try to put to rest the debate over how much Alaska should spend on schools.

Diane Hirshberg and Alexandra Hill told the Senate Education Committee Wednesday that they want to study how much schools need and what funding approach works best.

Their request for $67,000 to fund the study comes as education leaders from around Alaska are making rounds in the Capitol in an effort to convince Gov. Sean Parnell and lawmakers to guarantee funding over multiple years and to build in inflationary increases. Parnell prefers giving schools additional funding based on demonstrated needs.

Committee members say the intent is to attach the request to a budget proposal. Hirshberg told the committee the study could be completed by next year's legislative session.

-- Associated Press