State lawmakers filed a flurry of bills Friday ahead of next week's legislative session, adding a few dozen measures to a growing stack that now includes a proposal that would require legislative approval for projects like the heavily debated Pebble mine.
That proposal, from Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, refers to a "large-scale metallic sulfide mining operation that could affect water in or flowing into or over the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve."
The measure takes clear aim at the controversial Pebble mine proposal, defining "large-scale metallic sulfide mining operation" as one that extracts metals, such as copper and gold, and would affect at least 640 acres of land.
Pebble is near one of the world's premier salmon fisheries and has been the subject of an intense ad campaign.
French said Friday that state law spells out the same legislative approval process for oil and gas projects that could affect the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve. He said that "strong precedent" should help advance what he considers an important piece of legislation.
The Legislature last year authorized up to $750,000 for an independent study of the requirements related to large mine development in the state. Prior authorizations for studies related to Pebble stalled.
The bill that requires warnings outside airport screening areas, HB270, was from Reps. Sharon Cissna and Max Gruenberg, both Anchorage Democrats. Cissna made national headlines last year when, at a Seattle airport, she refused what she considered to be an invasive pat-down.
Cissna has since avoided airports with body scanners, making it difficult to efficiently and quickly travel to and from Alaska, or even within Alaska. She also has been outspoken in her frustration with the techniques used by Transportation Security Administration, saying she hears from people around the country who feel violated or harassed.
Last week, 30 new measures were filed ahead of the session. Bills that were alive at the end of the last session will remain in play when lawmakers reconvene for their 90-day session Tuesday.
Altogether, 28 proposals were filed Friday, including:
• A proposed cut in interest rates on student loans for Alaskans who put their skills to work in the state.
• A requirement that airports post warning signs that passengers are subject to body searches by physical touch.
• A permanent absentee-voting option.
• Two bills that would require certain information be made public by oil companies when applying for tax credits.
• A low-interest loan program for homeowners to convert their homes to natural gas-fired heating.
LIST OF PREFILED BILLS
-- HB 258, Rep. Reggie Joule, directing the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to develop and implement standards and operating procedures allowing for the use in the construction and maintenance of transportation projects and public facilities and in the construction of projects by public and private entities of gravel or aggregate materials that contain a limited amount of naturally occurring asbestos, and authorizing use on an interim basis of those materials for certain transportation projects and public facilities; relating to certain claims arising out of or in connection with the use of gravel or aggregate materials containing a limited amount of naturally occurring asbestos; and providing for an effective date.
-- HB 259, Reps. Cathy Munoz, Peggy Wilson, establishing procedures and guidelines for auditing pharmacy records; and providing for an effective date.
-- HB 260, Rep. Pete Petersen, establishing a permanent absentee voting option for qualified voters; and providing for an effective date.
-- HB 261, Rep. Bryce Edgmon, relating to loans for the purchase of commercial fishing entry permits; and providing for an effective date.
-- HB 262, Rep. Sharon Cissna, relating to the offense of interference with access to public buildings or transportation facilities, when a person conditions access to a public building or transportation facility on consent to certain physical contact or to an electronic process that produces a picture of the private exposure of the person.
-- HB 263, Reps. Berta Gardner, Les Gara, relating to information concerning oil and gas taxes, including information about expenditures that must be provided in order to claim an oil and gas production tax credit for those expenditures, and relating to the disclosure of that information; and providing for an effective date.
-- HB 264, Munoz, allowing a deferral of municipal property taxes on the increase in the value of real property attributable to subdivision of that property; and providing for an effective date.
-- HB 265, Rep. Max Gruenberg, adopting and relating to the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act.
-- HB 266, Munoz, relating to the practice of naturopathy; and providing for an effective date.
-- HB 267, Munoz and Rep. Kurt Olson, relating to the Real Estate Commission; and providing for an effective date.
-- HB 268, Reps. Gardner and Chris Tuck, relating to reporting requirements for credits against the oil and gas production tax and oil and gas exploration, production, and pipeline transportation property taxes; and relating to the authority of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to audit information reported by an employer claiming a credit.
-- HB 269, Rep. Lindsey Holmes, relating to the amendment of a declaration that creates a common interest community.
-- HB 270, Cissna and Gruenberg, requiring the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to require airports to post warning signs outside of security screening areas warning passengers that they are subject to searches of their bodies by physical touching and by electronic devices that emit radiation.
-- HB 271, Rep. Wes Keller, relating to the state highway system and commercial motor vehicle requirements.
-- HB 272, Gara, David Guttenberg, Gardner and Beth Kerttula, providing for a reduction in interest on postsecondary education loans for residents.
-- HB 273, Gardner, relating to the inclusion of the charges of a vendor of goods or services on the bills of certain telecommunications carriers; and adding an unlawful act to the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act.
-- HB 274, Holmes and Olson, relating to the exemption of certain acts and transactions from the provisions dealing with unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices.
-- HB 275, Rep. Bob Lynn, requiring that a policy of group health insurance offered by the state and certain local governments include coverage for colorectal screening, allow retirees to choose between brand-name and generic drug products, and limit certain prescription drug benefit payments to an amount based on the cost of the generic drug product.
-- HB 276, Rep. Steve Thompson, providing for a credit against the oil and gas production tax for costs incurred in drilling certain oil or natural gas exploration wells in the Nenana Basin.
-- HB 277, Rep. Dan Saddler, relating to occupational licensing fees charged by state agencies for certain veterans.
-- HB 278, Petersen, allowing as a condition of probation for a defendant convicted of certain sex offenses a prohibition against the defendant's residing at a residence where outdoor recreational equipment suitable for use by children under 16 years of age is located on the property.
-- SB 148, Sens. Bill Wielechowski, Dennis Egan, Johnny Ellis, Hollis French, Bettye Davis and Albert Kookesh, exempting a gas pipeline with a design capacity of 500,000,000 or more cubic feet of gas a day from the state's oil and gas exploration, production, and pipeline transportation property taxes until the pipeline generates revenue for its owners; and relating to the determination of full and true value for the purpose of determining the amount of required local contribution for public school funding.
-- SB 149, Sen. Joe Thomas, providing a tax credit for certain contributions to a qualified dog mushing corporation.
-- SB 150, Wielechowski, relating to applying military education, training, and service credit to occupational licensing and certain postsecondary education and employment training requirements; and providing for a temporary occupational license for qualified military service members.
-- SB 151, Sen. Kevin Meyer, relating to mitigation at sentencing in a criminal case for a defendant found by the court to have been affected by a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
-- SB 152, French, requiring legislative approval before the issuance of an authorization, license, permit, or approval of a plan of operation for a large-scale metallic sulfide mining operation that could affect water in or flowing into or over the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve.
-- SB 153, Thomas, relating to a gas storage facility; relating to the tax credit for a gas storage facility; relating to the powers and duties of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; relating to the regulation of natural gas storage as a utility; relating to the powers and duties of the director of the division of lands and to lease fees for a gas storage facility on state land; and providing for an effective date.
-- SB 154, Thomas, creating a low-interest loan program for homeowners who convert their homes to natural gas-fired heating; and creating the natural gas home heating conversion loan fund.
Source: Alaska Legislature
By BECKY BOHRER