State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Bill would stop minimum wage inflation proofing

JUNEAU - House Rules Committee Chairman Norm Rokeberg wants to repeal the requirement that Alaska's minimum wage rise with the consumer price index.

The inflation-proofing requirement was part of a bill lawmakers approved last year that raised Alaska's minimum wage from $5.65 an hour to $7.15 an hour.

Rokeberg, an Anchorage Republican, introduced a bill last week to repeal the inflation-proofing provision. He said it could hurt small businesses and hurt the economy.

The Legislature OK'd the minimum wage bill last year, partly because organized labor activists had gathered enough signatures to put the proposal on the ballot. By passing the measure, lawmakers kept the measure off the ballot.

If the wage increase bill had been approved by voters, rather than the Legislature, lawmakers would have been prohibited from altering it substantially for two years.

House Speaker Pete Kott, an Eagle River Republican, told legislators last year it would be better to approve the bill themselves, so they could come back this year and change it if they wanted.

House Bill 199 was referred to the House Labor and Commerce and Finance committees. It has not been scheduled for a hearing.

More charges for shooting defendant

JUNEAU - Another felony charge was added to the growing list of alleged offenses for a man accused of shooting an acquaintance in the back during an argument earlier this month.

Thomas Schauwecker, 31, faces a perjury charge for providing information about his assets on his application for a public defender. He applied for the public defender to represent him in the shooting charge. Schauwecker pleaded innocent to the perjury charge Tuesday in Juneau Superior Court.

Schauwecker was arrested March 8 for allegedly shooting a man who accused him of selling drugs to children. He originally was charged with attempted murder. The man, whose name was not released, sustained a shoulder wound.

When Schauwecker was indicted March 14 by a Juneau grand jury, the charges were changed and he was charged with one count of first-degree assault and a third-degree weapon misconduct charge, both felonies. He pleaded innocent.

It was unclear why the charges changed. Assistant District Attorney Kurt Twitty could not be reached for comment by the Empire's midday deadline.

Schauwecker has been lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center since his arrest and is being held on $30,000 bail. He is slated to go to trial on all charges June 2.

Coast Guard rescues overturned fisherman

JUNEAU - The U. S. Coast Guard rescued a Haines man whose boat overturned near Sullivan Island early today. The man, Lloyd Gilman, was uninjured.

Around 2 a.m., the Coast Guard picked up a signal from a radio beacon somewhere near Sullivan Island, about 50 miles north of Juneau in Lynn Canal, said Petty Officer Russ Tippets.

A rescue helicopter from Sitka flew to the area to investigate. Rescuers located the beacon and a plastic fish shovel in the water near the island. A few hours later, rescuers spotted an overturned black life raft in the water.

Around 9 a.m., rescuers located an overturned fishing vessel on land with two survival suits. Tippets said a rescue swimmer was lowered into the water to investigate. The swimmer located Gilman, the sole occupant of the 66-foot steel-hulled vessel, on land.

Tippets said the Coast Guard does not yet know why the boat overturned. Gilman was expected to be taken back to Haines today.

Trailer burns, no injuries

JUNEAU - No one was injured when the underside of a mobile home caught fire Tuesday afternoon in the Mendenhall Valley.

Capital City Fire and Rescue workers responded around 4:30 p.m. to 4544 Trafalgar Ave. Firefighters removed the skirting around the bottom of the double-wide mobile home to reach the fire and had it knocked down in 15 minutes, said Volunteer District Fire Chief Max Mielke.

Damage to the kitchen was heavy. Damage to the floor of the mobile home rendered it a total loss, Mielke said. The loss was estimated at $16,000.

Acting Fire Marshal Richard Etheridge said overheated heat tape around the main water line for the trailer caused the blaze.

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