Legislative News in Brief

Juneau Hydropower, Inc. has filed for a draft license application and a preliminary draft environmental assessment for a hydropower project at the popular fishing hole, Sweetheart Lake. According to a notice published by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the hydropower project would be located at the confluence of Sweetheart Lake and Gilbert Bay and would occupy 1,887 acres of federal lands within the Tongass National Forest.


The application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may be commented on until Jan. 27. You can find the notice complete with details for commenting on the application at: http://bit.ly/jnuhydro


Murkowski co-sponsors bill to prevent another shutdown

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is co-sponsoring a bill that would prevent a future government shutdown. The End Government Shutdown act would create a “trigger to fund the government if a fiscal year ended without a new funding bill passed by Congress,” according to a statement from the senator’s office.

“Whether you’re an air taxi operator waiting on a permit from the FAA, a crab fisherman awaiting allocation limits from NOAA, a forester in the Tongass told to shut down logging operations or a family shut out of a long-awaited trip to a national park, a government shutdown benefits no one and causes turmoil and chaos across the spectrum,” Murkowski said in the statement.


Murkowski, Begich co-sponsor FREEDOM Act

Alaska’s senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich are co-sponsors of the USA FREEDOM Act. The legislation is “designed to curb efforts by the federal government to gain access to millions of Americans’ phone records, while also requiring greater oversight, transparency and accountability of domestic surveillance authorities,” according to a statement from Murkowski’s office.

“I believe this bill is the necessary step in creating greater transparency and accountability while still protecting Americans at home and abroad,” Begich said in a statement. “Alaskans tell me all the time they are concerned about their privacy after learning the NSA collected communications of ordinary, non-threatening citizens. I will continue to fight to make sure that the privacy of all Alaskans is protected.”


Alaska delegation support bill encouraging coastline development

A bill that would encourage investment and development on the United States’ coastlines was introduced Tuesday by Alaska’s congressional delegation. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and Rep. Don Young are sponsoring the Federal Submerged Lands Transportation Development Act, which would allow the Coast Guard to sign leases longer than five years for development on unused submerged lands.

“This bill will provide a new tool in the arsenal of the Coast Guard for managing its tidal properties, and help communities, such as Kodiak, develop projects for the betterment of their livelihoods,” Young said in a statement. “The ability to negotiate for longer lease terms should give the added certainty needed for development.”


House passes Land Transfer Act

The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, which operates the largest tribal health facility in the nation, may soon have an additional 2.79 acres of land to build a patient housing facility. The House of Representatives passed the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act Tuesday.

“This land transfer will allow ANTHC to expand patient housing, maximize care by locating patients near the Medical Center and its resources, and reduce transportation and housing costs,” Rep. Don Young said in a statement. “It’s a common sense solution that empowers ANTHC with the ability to develop the facility in accordance with the federal trust responsibility that ANTHC currently fulfills on behalf of the (Indian Health Service).”

The Alaska Native Medical Center is a 380,635 square foot facility with over 150 beds. It’s Alaska’s only level II trauma center.

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich have companion legislation in the Senate. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is expected to look at the legislation Wednesday.


Gara collecting laptops for Foster Youth program

Got an old laptop that works but just doesn’t work for you? Rep. Les Gara of Anchorage is collecting them for the Laptops for Foster Youth program.

“A laptop helps youth succeed in school, retain pictures of family, stay in contact with friends, and lead a more normal life,” Gara said in a statement.

Gara’s office is asking for new or used working laptops or tablets. They should be Wi-Fi ready and have a word processing program. The program has matched 250 foster youth with laptops or tablets. You can contact Gara’s Anchorage office at 907-269-0106 to arrange dropping off laptops or tablets in the Juneau area.


Doyon gives Soboleff Center financial boost

The Walter Soboleff Center got a financial boost from the Interior Alaska regional Native corporation Doyon. Doyon President and CEO Aaron Schutt presented a ceremonial check for $100,000 to Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Byron Mallott and Rosita Worl Saturday at the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention in Fairbanks.

“We are proud to contribute to this building named in honor of the late Walter Soboleff, a man who worked tirelessly to achieve civil rights for Native people and who believed so strongly in sharing Native traditions,” Schutt said.

The $20 million center is currently under construction in downtown Juneau. Sealaska Heritage Institute has raised about 85 percent of the funds for the project. SHI plans to be a “cultural think-tank and research facility for the 21st century.”

• Contact reporter Jennifer Canfield at 523-2279 or at jennifer.n.canfield@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/canfieldjenn.



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