Habeger appointed deputy Administration commish
JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell has appointed Don Habeger deputy commissioner at the Department of Administration.
Habeger will fill the vacancy left by Curtis Thayer, who was appointed commissioner after Becky Hultberg resigned.
Habeger has been serving as director of the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing within the state commerce department.
He will take on his new role, effective March 31.
House rejects budget language on Anchorage office
JUNEAU — In voting on the budget, the Alaska House rejected language pertaining to the new legislative information office in Anchorage.
Fairbanks Democratic Rep. Scott Kawasaki proposed the Legislative Council looks to recoup some of the increased cost. The proposal also said it was the Legislature’s intent that no lawmaker’s office in the new building be more than 30 percent larger than any others, though visiting lawmakers with primary offices elsewhere could get smaller spaces.
Republican Rep. Mike Hawker called the proposed amendment “terribly uninformed.” Hawker chairs the council and was involved in negotiating the new office deal, criticized for its cost by some lawmakers.
Hawker said the new building will standardize office-space sizes and provide improved quality, like reliable elevators and drinkable water.
The vote was seven in favor, 31 against.
Senate Education hears grants for correspondence
JUNEAU — The Alaska Senate Education Committee plans a Monday hearing a bill for creating a grant program to assist correspondence studies.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican from Wasilla, calls for a grant program in providing materials and equipment for correspondence studies. It would be administered by the Association of Alaska School Boards.
Education Committee Chairman Gary Stevens of Kodiak asked for an opinion from the state Department of Law during an earlier review of Senate Bill 100 that creates the grant program.
Stevens questions the constitutionality of not listing the Alaska State Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in a supervisory role for administering the grants.
State sues over rejection of refuge plan
JUNEAU — The state has sued the federal government over rejecting Alaska’s exploration plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The state last year proposed a plan aimed at determining the refuge’s oil and gas potential. Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration argued under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the Interior Secretary must approve an exploration plan if it meets necessary requirements.
A regional Fish and Wildlife Service director found, and the agency’s director affirmed, that the authorization for an exploration program on the refuge’s coastal plain expired in 1987. The lawsuit disputes that.
Parnell said the state sued to ensure Americans have a chance to learn about the region’s resources.
The Alaska Wilderness League’s Cindy Shogan said it’s time for the state to take no for an answer “and move on.”