Lawmakers last week put what are likely the last big pieces of this year’s budget fix on their agenda.
On Friday, the members of the Senate Majority introduced Senate Bill 70, which combines a spending cap, Permanent Fund spending and a new formula for the Permanent Fund Dividend. Combined with $300 million in budget cuts (expected separately), that bill is the Senate’s offering when it comes to fixing the state’s $2.7 billion annual deficit.
The House Majority has already begun detailed work on House Bill 115, its plan.
Lawmakers continue to prove they can walk and chew gum at the same time: While the budget is No. 1 on Alaskans’ priority list, judging by a flood of public testimony in the Capitol, lawmakers not on budgetary committees have been able to tackle other issues as well.
Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, has listened to hours of testimony on problems with the state’s Office of Children’s Services, and that testimony has resulted in a pair of bills that are among the highlights of the latest new legislation:
HB 133 (Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage) — Increases most oil and gas production taxes.
HB 134 (Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage) — The Board of Game has to include someone from the tourism industry, and at least one of the board’s members has to represent non-hunting interests.
HB 135 (Rep. Dean Westlake, D-Kotzebue) — If a school district gets state money for school construction or renovation, they can get an extension on the time needed for the local match if they show good cause.
HB 136 (Rep. Matt Claman, D-Anchorage) — Auto manufacturers have to relax their rules on car dealer franchises.
HB 137 (House Education Committee) — The Alaska State Council on the Arts is a state-owned corporation rather than part of the Department of Education and Early Development.
HB 138 (Westlake) — March is Sobriety Awareness Month.
HB 139 (Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole) — The state can no longer block people from getting professional licenses if they’ve gotten a black mark from the Office of Children’s Services.
HB 140 (Wilson) — If the state wants to take kids from their parents, the parents have the right to request a jury trial.
HB 141 (Rep. Zach Fansler, D-Bethel) — Extends the funding formula for the Alaska Workforce Investment Board.
HB 142 (Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage) — Increases unemployment payments for Alaskans making more than $42,000 per year before they lost their job.
HB 143 (Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski) — Names an Anchorage office building after Dan Fauske.
HB 144 (Rep. Sam Kito III, D-Juneau) — Keeps the Board of Veterinary Examiners running through 2025.
HB 145 (Rep. Dean Westlake, D-Kotzebue) — The state can’t refuse someone a massage therapist license because they’ve been convicted of a crime.
HB 146 (Rep. Matt Claman, D-Anchorage) — Starts a school tax of at least $100 per year. Alaskans making more money would pay more, based on their salary.
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTIONS
HJR 11 (Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage) — Congress should pass legislation overturning the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
HJR 12 (Tarr) — Congress should require the labeling of genetically engineered products.
SB 65 (Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla) — Establishes the Jonesville Public Use Area near Sutton.
SB 66 (Senate Education Committee) — The Alaska State Council on the Arts is a state-owned corporation rather than part of the Department of Education and Early Development.
SB 67 (Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole) — The Alaska Judicial Council doesn’t have to collect and record information about all civil settlements in Alaska.
SB 68 (Dunleavy) — Fixes a land-ownership problem with the law that transferred the Alaska Railroad to the state in 1983 but made it more difficult for landowners near the tracks to use their land.
SB 69 (Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau) — If you have a weapon in your car, get pulled over by a police officer, and don’t tell the officer you have a weapon, it’s fifth-degree weapons misconduct.
SB 70 (Senate Finance Committee) — Fixes a big part of the state’s budget deficit with money from the Alaska Permanent Fund’s earnings reserve, creates a new formula for dividend distribution, and implements a spending cap.
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTIONS
SCR 3 (Senate Arctic committee) — Speeds the passage of HJR 5.
SCR 4 (Sen. Shelly Hughes, R-Palmer) — The Legislature’s Task Force on Unmanned Aircraft Systems continues to exist.
SCR 5 (Sen. Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage) — March 2, 2018 is Alaska Reads Day.
SR 4 (Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage) — Congress should let the state manage wildlife on federal parks and preserves.
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