Leg with Louie- February 6

The Legislature is in full swing these days. On February 19th they will reach a specific, self-imposed milestone prohibiting individual members and special committees from filing new legislation. This is done so that members can focus on the bills that have already been introduced as they attempt to wrap things up by spring.

This means that after February 19th the lawyers over at the Legislative Legal offices will not be compelled to fulfill over the transom bill requests from legislative offices. It is actually kind of sad to think that after February 19th there will be no more new bills – standing committee bills and governor’s bills notwithstanding – until January of 2019. The filing and introduction of a new bill is an event. New bills can introduce us to issues we did not even know existed. There is a stunning array of bill topics here>>

There are some who complain that a legislature generates too many bills. This is nonsense. If anything, more bills are needed. Not all, not even most, bills deserve to actually pass into law. Yet, a population who reviews and reads these proposals and appreciates the associated research, staff time, legal analysis, and arguments for and against, is better off for it.

Hearings to Watch this Week:

HB 322 – Legislation to update oil spill penalties and fines, and to require safety and preparedness contingency plans for companies trucking crude oil, in the event that they cause an oil spill on land, or in a river or a lake. HB 322 will be opened for public testimony today, February 5th at 1 p.m. To testify visit your local Legislative Information Office, or by calling (907) 563-9085 Amendments and Committee debate on HB 322 are scheduled for Wednesday, February 7th at 6:30 p.m.

Alaska State Parks overview – Senate Resources Committee, today, February 5th at 3:30 p.m. This will be a general discussion on the different parks in Alaska, how they are managed, where they are, what issues they are facing.

Sexual and workplace harassment policy discussion – Joint Legislative Council – Tuesday at 7 a.m. This meeting continues the discussion on legislative ratification of a specific policy to protect legislative employees from harassment. The Legislative Council will discuss the policy again on Thursday, February 7th at 7 a.m.

HB 199 – House Fisheries, 11 a.m. February 6th. The committee will hear a presentation by ADF&G on the current fish habitat permitting process. For those following discussions on HB 199, which seeks to modernize our fish habitat permitting laws, this hearing will provide good background context.

HJR 31 is a resolution which asks the U.S. Congress to reverse the recent Federal Communications Commission ruling on Net Neutrality. This resolution will be discussed in the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 3 p.m. Public testimony on the resolution will be taken Thursday, Feb 8th at 3 p.m.

The House Finance Subcommittee looking into the the operations and budget of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation will meet Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. while the subcommittee looking into the operations and budget of the Division of Forestry will meet at noon on Wednesday. Tune into these hearings if you would like a general overview of the functions and activities of these specific agencies.

On Wednesday, February 7th the House Resources Committee will hear a presentation on the “Transition from Crowley to Edison Chouest Offshore for Prince William Sound and Valdez Marine Terminal Prevention and Response.” Alyeska Pipeline Service Company Representatives at 1 p.m.

The Senate Resources Committee will hear a presentation on Wednesday, February 7th, at 3:30 p.m. from the Department of Law regarding “Alaska’s Federal Issues”.

The House Fisheries Committee will continue its investigation of the permitting process for projects in, on and around fish habitat on Thursday February 8th at 10 a.m. The committee will hear from the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Department of Transportation as well as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

On Friday, February 9th at noon, a House Finance Subcommittee will look into the operation and budget of the Department of Natural Resources Division of Mining, Land, and Water permitting offices.

HB 277 is a bill sponsored by Rep. Scott Kawasaki which would help reverse the recent Federal Communications Commission ruling on Net Neutrality. The House Labor and Commerce Committee will hear and take public testimony on HB 277 on Friday, February 9th at 3:15 p.m. See more on the effort to preserve Net Neutrality in Alaska>>

SB 86- On Friday at 3:30 p.m. the Senate Resources will hear SB 86 relating to the sale or other disposal, leasing, or encumbrance of Alaska Railroad Corporation land. The committee will also hear SB 166, a bill sponsored by Governor Walker which would eliminate state requirements to conduct annual labor and yearly affidavits for annual labor on state mining claims, leasehold locations, and mining leases. The bill would also increase the annual mining rental rates for mining claims, leasehold locations and mining leases.

The Committee will also hear an overview on the Arctic Strategic Transportation and Resources Project – an initiative to develop industrial roadways throughout the North Slope.

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