State and local briefly

Posted: Monday, March 06, 2000

Stevens seeks place for papers

ANCHORAGE - Sen. Ted Stevens is looking for a home for his public papers, and the University of Alaska Anchorage appears to be the most likely site.

Stevens is 76 and at the peak of his 32-year career in the U.S. Senate. He has been mulling where to send the mountain of memos and notes and letters on matters that have shaped lives, fortunes and laws in Alaska.

Stevens wants to build a permanent library for the collection. No final decisions have been made. But Stevens is considering having the papers housed at UAA, probably at a privately financed wing of a proposed new library complex. The papers reside now in boxes stored at the National Archives' records center in Suitland, Md.

Stevens said his will directs that upon his death, custody of his papers will fall to his wife, Catherine. In the meantime, Stevens said he plans to build a place for the collection.

The university has asked the state for $30 million as its share of that structure, with another $10 million or so to come from Stevens through congressional appropriations. But Stevens said private money would pay for the space for his personal papers.

Stevens' records are among the most extensive in Congress.

He has served in the Senate since December 1968, when Gov. Walter J. Hickel appointed him to fill the seat after Bob Bartlett died. During his tenure, Stevens has been a force in shaping most of the major laws affecting Alaska, including the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, federal fisheries programs and the Alaska pipeline authorization act.

Bill gives poor parents lawyers sooner

JUNEAU - A bill allowing public defenders to more quickly aid parents whose children have been taken into protective custody by the state was approved by the House last week.

A child removed from a home by the Division of Family and Youth Services because of suspected abuse or neglect must appear before a judge within 48 hours.

The judge decides whether there is probable cause to determine that the juvenile is a ``child in need of assistance.''

Public defenders now are prohibited from helping parents until the parents are determined to be indigent. House Bill 259 would allow public defenders to represent clients at the probable cause hearing.

Rep. John Coghill, the North Pole Republican who sponsored the bill, said parents feel intimidated by the judicial process and often do not present themselves well at that initial hearing. Public defenders could help parents present their point of view, he said, which could help reunite families more quickly.

Review could be eased on some permits

JUNEAU - The Department of Natural Resources would be exempted from conducting an exhaustive public review of certain permits to use state land under a bill passed Friday by the Senate.

Sen. Pete Kelly's bill was prompted by a 1999 Alaska Supreme Court decision challenging the department's ability to issue a revocable permit for the Golden Valley Electric Association's proposed intertie across the Tanana Flats.

In a case brought by environmental groups, the court ruled that the right-of-way permit couldn't really be revoked because of the size and permanence of the project. The permit constituted a transfer of land, the court found, and such permits require an in-depth finding that the transfer would be in the state's best interest.

The intertie project is on hold while the department conducts that process.

Kelly's bill would not derail that review, but it would effectively reverse the decision for future projects.

Opponents of the measure contend it would decrease public involvement in decisions about how state land is used.

Oil companies agree on spill plans

ANCHORAGE - The three largest oil companies in Alaska last week withdrew their objections to the state's revised spill contingency plan for Prince William Sound.

Late last year the shipping arms of BP Amoco PLC, Atlantic Richfield Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp. slammed the Department of Environmental Conservation plan as placing an excessive burden on the companies.

Specifically, the companies did not want to train commercial fishermen to use respirators for front-line spill response, draft plans for reacting to spills outside the sound, or report to the state on tanker incidents outside state waters.

In a conference call Friday with chief administrative law judge Shelley Higgins in the state Department of Administration, the companies agreed to drop their appeal and meet all of the state's conditions for the spill-response plan.

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