State and local briefly

Posted: Tuesday, March 07, 2000

Pledge of Allegiance bill rejected

JUNEAU - Differences between lawmakers have hung up a bill requiring public school students to cite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Following impassioned debate about religious freedom, the state House on Monday rejected the Senate version of House Bill 192. That version left out language requiring school districts to inform students and staff of their right not to participate in the pledge.

The House, which passed the original measure last year, rejected the revised measure Monday. Fourteen Republicans joined Democrats in voting to send the measure back to the Senate.

House members urged senators to rescind their vote and accept the House version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeannette James, a North Pole Republican.

Lawmakers oppose Game Board member

JUNEAU - Gov. Tony Knowles' newest Board of Game appointee was rejected by House and Senate committees at a confirmation hearing Monday.

The Senate and House Resources Committees, in separate votes, recommended the full Legislature reject the nomination of Leo Keeler, a land manager for the Chugach National Forest and a wildlife photographer.

A joint session to consider Keeler could come up as early as Wednesday. The vote followed sometimes sharp questioning that focused on whether Keeler would support wolf control to increase prey populations near McGrath and other areas of the state.

Keeler told legislators he would support aggressive predator control if circumstances warranted it. He said he supports wolf control in McGrath if other steps are taken first.

Ferry Taku back in service

JUNEAU - The state ferry Taku has returned to service after hull repairs.

The ferry left Ketchikan at 1 a.m. Monday, heading for Prince Rupert, British Columbia. It was to be back on its regular schedule today.

The 26-year-old ferry was on its way from Wrangell to Ketchikan last week when crewmembers found water in an area that's supposed to be dry. An inspection revealed a small crack.

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