Empire Archives is a series printed every Saturday featuring a short compilation of headline stories in the Juneau Empire from archived editions in 1985, 1995 and 2005.
This week in 1985, Juneau’s legislative delegation agreed that a $46,000-a-year flat salary was much better than the then-proposed per diem system. The per diem system proposed at the time would have cut their pay nearly in half, but in turn would constitute a $109-a-day per diem.
During this year’s session, lawmakers missed the deadline to block an abrupt 67% pay raise for legislators, and around a 20% raise for the governor and his commissioner, that was originally OK’d by the five members of the Alaska State Officers Compensation Commission.
When the proposed hike happened, House Bill 135 was brought forth by a handful of legislators from the House who argued the actions taken by the compensation commission were not “transparent” and eroded public trust.
However, at the deadline for legislators to pass the bill the day came and went without the bill moving forward with a final vote. Now, beginning in 2024, legislators will be paid $84,000 per year — a $33,600 increase — and the governor will be paid approximately $176,000 per year — a 31,000 increase.
Original Story: “Local delegation favors current legislative pay” by Kirk McAllister. 10/15/1985.
This week in 1995, the municipal election was certified, showing a defeat of a proposed $9 million bond issue (about $18.2 million today) for a new police station. The vote was 61.5% of voters against its construction, while 37% voted in favor.
At the time, opposing voters said they believed the new station was needed, but not at the proposed location at Bus Barn Park.
However, just a year later during the 1996 municipal election, a temporary 1% sales tax was approved by voters to fund a new 27,000-square-foot police station in the Switzer-Lemon Creek area. The new Juneau Police Station was officially dedicated on May 12, 2000, and is still in service today.
Original Story: “Police station bond fails” by Mark Sabbatini. 10/14/1995.
This week in 2005, a coalition of environmental groups issued a report that pronounced the Tongass National Forest as “endangered due to logging, drilling and mining. The report criticized the then-Bush Administration for increasing the amount of logging in national forests even though the economic worth of the federal timber sale program was marginal at the national level.
In January of this year, the Biden administration announced a ban on logging and road-building in the nine million acres of the Tongass National Forest. The decision was aimed to settle a two-decade battle over the fate of the forest.
Biden’s move reinstated protections that were first put in place in 2001, but stripped by previous President Donald Trump in 2020. In September, the state of Alaska filed a complaint challenging the Biden administration’s reinstatement.
Original Story: “Report says Tongass and 11 other forests are endangered” by Elizabeth Bluemink. 10/13/2005.
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651)-528-1807.