JUNEAU - The Senate voted Thursday to make failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense for which a police officer can pull over a driver.
The bill by Sen. Con Bunde, R-Anchorage, passed 11-6. It now goes to the House for consideration.
The measure would strike an Alaska statute that says a police officer may not stop a vehicle and write a ticket solely for a seat belt violation.
Bunde, in presenting the bill to the Senate, said seven Alaskans would still be alive if the measure was passed last year.
Sen. Donald Olson, D-Nome, said good judgment should take precedent over making seat belt violations a crime, and that soon "Big Brother is going to be watching us all the time."
Voting against the measure were Republican Sens. Lyda Green of Wasilla, Fred Dyson of Eagle River and Charlie Huggins of Palmer, and Democratic Sens. Johnny Ellis of Anchorage, Albert Kookesh of Angoon and Olson.
Also on Thursday, the House passed an amended version of a Senate bill to give municipalities the option of holding a special election on voter initiatives instead of requiring special elections.
The measure would allow municipalities to wait until the next scheduled election to put an initiative on the ballot.
"It is an act which will allow savings for municipalities throughout our state," said Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer.
The bill passed 38-0. It now goes back to the Senate for approval of the House changes.
Man fatally shoots self outside hospital
JUNEAU - A 52-year-old Juneau man died early Thursday after apparently shooting himself outside the Bartlett Regional Hospital emergency room, police reported.
Hospital staff members reportedly found Stephen Brian Barnes lying outside the emergency room entrance, Sgt. Ed Mercer reported. He was pronounced dead after being treated inside. Officers working overnight received a call from the hospital staff at 1:56 a.m. saying they were treating the man.
"The case is still under investigation," Mercer said, adding that police haven't determined what Barnes was doing outside the hospital or why he shot himself there. Mercer apparently used a .22-caliber handgun.
Man arrested in fatal stabbing of wife
ANCHORAGE - A man was arrested Thursday in the fatal stabbing of his wife, police said.
Jimmy Korkow, 34, was charged with first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the death of Teresa Korkow, 30, police said.
Jimmy Korkow had shown up in Soldotna, where he told Alaska State Troopers that there had been a disturbance at his home in Anchorage.
Anchorage police went to the home and found Teresa Korkow dead.
The couple's three daughters - ages 12, 7 and 6 - were at the house but unharmed, police said. They were turned over to state protective custody.
Moose that stomped boy killed by police
ANCHORAGE - A moose was shot and killed after stomping a boy in an Anchorage neighborhood where residents had been feeding the animal.
A police officer shot the moose Monday after the 6-year-old boy was safely in a neighbor's home at the Rangeview Mobile Home Park. The park manager said neighbors had left vegetables out for the moose, and children had harassed it.
The boy, Peyton Huisingh, suffered a split lip and headache.
"As usual, it's people that have caused the problem and the moose that suffered the ultimate consequence," said state Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott.
Moose are hungry this time of year and can be dangerous, especially when previously given handouts and expecting food, Sinnott said.
Peyton said he went over to a friend's house to play but was told his friend, Austin Roehl, was sleeping.
Jacqueline Roehl said she closed the door and then heard Peyton scream. She looked out her living room window and saw the moose going straight for the boy.
The moose was quickly on top of him, she said. She threw open her front door and screamed. She grabbed snow boots and sneakers stacked next to the door and began tossing them at the animal.
The moose looked at her and stopped, and Peyton scrambled to safety.
The boy had been kicked in the head and was crying.
A police officer shot the 700- to 1,000-pound moose.
Driver fired for not reporting stabbing
ANCHORAGE - A school bus driver was fired for failing to notice that a student had been stabbed on his bus, school officials said.
The driver employed by First Student Inc. also was faulted for continuing on with his Anchorage route without notifying supervisors of anything unusual, even after he noticed blood on the student's hand.
On Feb. 16, a 13-year-old stabbed a 14-year-old classmate in the head and shoulder area, using a pocketknife with a 3-inch blade, according to police and Anchorage School District officials.
Michael Jourdan, general manager of First Student, said the subsequent investigation found the driver's actions violated company policy. The driver's name has not been released.
"The drivers are trained so if there is anything out of the ordinary on or around the bus, they report their location to dispatch and their description of what's going on so they can get further direction and dispatch can contact schools and the district," Jourdan said.
He said the man had worked for the company for about two years.
Anchorage School District Superintendent Carol Comeau said the district sent a letter to Jourdan after the incident telling him they didn't want that driver on any routes with children.
"The thing that bothered all of us the most," Comeau said, "is he noticed blood on the kid's hand and did not stop and immediately radio us and report it and make sure the kid got help."
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