State Briefs

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2002

Another plan to cap taxes

JUNEAU - Alaska doesn't have an income or sales tax, but there's a plan in the House to rein in both.

Rep. Eric Croft, an Anchorage Democrat, is sponsoring a measure that would impose a 5 percent cap on state sales tax and hold an income tax to 5 percent of a person's federal adjusted gross income.

The measure would have to be approved by the Legislature to be on the November ballot for voters to decide.

"My main purpose is to assure people that a tax that started at a reasonable rate didn't grow unreasonably. It says, 'I am not going into your pockets any deeper than this amount,' " Croft said.

New taxes have been a major theme of this legislative session as lawmakers consider ways to close a state budget deficit.

Alaska's budget is expected to have a $865 million shortfall this year that is projected to grow to $1.1 billion by next year.

Gov. Tony Knowles proposed an income tax of 20 percent of a person's federal tax bill as part of an overall plan involving alcohol and cruise ships taxes to raise $400 million.

Rep. Bill Hudson, a Juneau Republican, is proposing a 1 percent income tax that would rise to 2.25 percent of adjusted gross income after the first year.

Croft's measure went before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday. Committee Chairman Norman Rokeberg, an Anchorage Republican, said he plans to approve the measure and send it to the House Finance Committee. But it won't go unscathed.

"I think the cap is too high," Rokeberg said.

Canadians question man in Alaskan's death

WHITEHORSE, Yukon - Canadian authorities have questioned the hitchhiker picked up by an elderly Alaska man who was found bludgeoned to death last year in British Columbia.

The hitchhiker, who is an American, was arrested on an unrelated case in California and is now in custody in Los Angeles, according to Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

A witness told Alaska State Troopers that James Hamrick, 74, picked up the hitchhiker in Tok on Sept. 8. Hamrick had left Anchorage that day and was traveling to Arizona with his pet poodle, Muffy, in his pickup truck and camper.

Hamrick's body was found Sept. 10 at a remote rest stop near Prince George. The dead man was still wearing his expensive watch and a heavy gold ring, but his wallet was missing. Also missing was his pickup truck.

The truck later was found in Vancouver and someone dropped off Hamrick's poodle at a Canadian animal shelter.

Police have not released the hitchhiker's name because he has not been charged with anything. Police would not say if the man is a suspect in the killing.

So long, suckers

FAIRBANKS - The state Department of Fish and Game has come up with an idea for ridding three lakes of unappealing northern longnose suckers.

The agency wants to poison the lakes on Fort Greely near Delta Junction so it can restock them with tastier fish like rainbow trout and Arctic grayling.

The Division of Sport Fish is seeking approval from the Department of Environmental Conservation to use a chemical called rotenone to kill suckers in Chet, J and Nickel lakes.

Rotenone is a naturally occurring substance found in the roots and stems of several tropical plants. It works by inhibiting a biochemical process in the fish cells, resulting in a fish's inability to use oxygen in the release of energy during normal body processes.

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