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FAIRBANKS - A bill was introduced into the Legislature that would empower the governor to remove a University of Alaska regent.
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If the bill passes, Gov. Sarah Palin would have the authority to suspend or remove Regent Jim Hayes, who is also a church pastor and former Fairbanks mayor.
The move comes as state lawmakers continue to express frustration over Hayes' refusal to step down despite a federal indictment against him on charges of misusing government funds.
The bill was introduced Friday by the House State Affairs Committee. It would give the governor the right to suspend or remove a regent who has been charged with certain crimes or is unable to complete his duties as regent.
"Without a bill such as this, the situation could hang in limbo, which is a disservice to UA and the people of Alaska," committee's chairman, Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, said in a news release.
In February, Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, began the process of impeaching Hayes. Wagoner said he took the step in part because Palin thought she lacked the authority to remove Hayes herself.
A legal opinion by a legislative attorney suggested she did have the authority, but the state attorney general said she did not.
Hayes, and his wife, Murilda "Chris" Hayes, were indicted on multiple charges of theft, fraud and money laundering associated with their alleged misuse of $450,000 in funds given to LOVE Social Services, of which Chris Hayes is executive director. Jim Hayes was indicted on 23 counts, Chris Hayes on 92 counts.