Net Neutrality is a concept which has some potential for bipartisan support in the AK Legislature. Our internet freedoms, to shop and consume news on a spectrum of veracity, and spar with trolls etc. must be protected, and the speed at which we access them must be protected too.
If the recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission to repeal Net Neutrality should have the impact of reduced access to sites and games – internet surfers nationwide will hit the roof, and there will be Hell to pay. It is best to address things now.
Two bills in the legislature seek to reverse the FCC ruling – SB 160 by Senator Tom Begich, and HB 277 by Representative Scott Kawasaki. These bills will both be heard and receive public testimony in committee next week. The bills, along with two resolutions, and a sign on letter form the heart of an effort to preserve Net Neutrality on a state level.
It is an exciting week ahead. See the list below for hearings of interest. Pebble Mine, Oil Spill Prevention, Tangle Lakes State Game Refuge, Plastic Bag Fees, Net Neutrality and More! Please participate.
HEARINGs to watch this week
MONDAY FEB 12
1 p.m. House Resources – continuation of discussion on a HB 322 a bill to slightly increase the fine and penalty structure for petroleum pollution to prevent spills and fund clean-up. Following this, a presentation on oil and chemical contamination of ANCSA lands.
3:30 p.m. Senate Resources – Public testimony will open on SB 86, legislation to repeal the current requirement for legislative approval prior to an Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) land sale or land lease. Public testimony will be taken on legislation to shield electric utilities from liability for the release of chemicals from placement, use, and removal wooden utility poles, SB 173. The committee will also consider SB 92, legislation to decrease the incidence of abandoned and derelict vessels in AK – in turn decreasing costs to state agencies and decreasing water pollution.
TUESDAY FEB 13
8 a.m. House Community and Regional Affairs – A second hearing will be held on Rep. Andy Josephson’s bill to add a 20 cent fee for plastic shopping bags, HB 264. The first hearing is/was Saturday (Feb. 10 at 10 a.m.).
11 a.m. House Fisheries – Tangle Lakes is a popular hunting, fishing, hiking, sightseeing, birdwatching, canoeing, kayaking, cloud watching, camping, rafting, berry picking area of immense archeological importance. The lakes lie at the top of the Delta and Gulkana river systems. HB 272 seeks to protect portions of the area from the threat of major nickel mining proposals. https://www.savetanglelakes.org/
12:00 p.m. Joint House and Senate Resources Mining Industry and Project Overview –
This annual update offers the mining industry a platform to highlight its AK employment statistics, local tax contributions, and importance to Alaska generally. As is common when major multinational corporations come before the AK State Legislature, expect to hear from the mining corporation reps that their industry is very strong, yet vulnerable, weak, unstable, and in danger of collapse if any new taxes are imposed or if environmental policy is updated in any way.
1:30 p.m. Senate Labor and Commerce – Public testimony will be taken on SB 160 a bill designed to reinstate Net Neutrality in Alaska.
WEDNESDAY, FEB 14
3:15 p.m. House Labor and Commerce – Public testimony will be taken on HB 277 a bill, like SB 160, designed to reinstate Net Neutrality in Alaska. Lots of states and cities are considering similar policy options.
THURSDAY, FEB 15
11 a.m. House Fisheries – the committee continues a thoughtful and in-depth discussion on the permitting process for projects impacting salmon habitat in Alaska. In this overview the committee will hear from the Department of Natural Resources on their major role the permitting process.
FRIDAY, FEB 16
1 p.m. House Resources committee – Friday Fun! The committee will hear an update on the Mother of All Terrible Ideas – Pebble Mine – from General Mark Hamilton, Exec. Vice President of External Affairs, Pebble Partnership. Perhaps the Trump Administration EPA is putting the brakes on? Who really knows. New mine plan not only ruins major fish habitat, and threatens largest freshwater lake in AK- it also would cut the heart out of a world famous bear viewing location. Sad!
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