State and local briefly

Posted: Monday, May 01, 2000

House seeks constitutional changes

JUNEAU - The state House voted Sunday to put before voters a proposal to bar judges from changing the wording on proposed constitutional amendments.

The measure also would define that a constitutional amendment is a change limited to one subject, even though it may effect multiple sections of the constitution.

The measure, itself a proposed constitutional amendment, was defeated by one vote April 21. On Sunday, it won a required two-thirds majority, 28-12. If the Senate agrees to changes made by the House, the measure will appear on the November ballot.

Sen. Dave Donley, an Anchorage Republican, sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 27 with 10 other senators in response to a ruling by the Alaska Supreme Court that tossed an amendment Donley proposed off the ballot.

The court ruled Donley's proposal to limit the rights of prisoners was a revision of the constitution, not an amendment. The constitution can be revised only by a constitutional convention.

Donley said the court's action upset the balance of power between branches of government. He also said the ruling likely would have invalidated some previous amendments approved by voters.

All minority Democrats except for Rep. Carl Moses of Unalaska continued to oppose the measure. Rep. John Davies, a Fairbanks Democrat, said it opens the door to wide-ranging constitutional changes even if amendments are limited to one subject.

He also said sponsors have overstated the effect of the court's rejection of Donley's amendment. Previous amendments passed court scrutiny, Davies said, because they were not the sweeping changes that Donley's prisoners' amendment had proposed.

New Tracy Arm chart created

JUNEAU - A new, easier-to-read nautical chart of Tracy Arm was unveiled Saturday.

Chart 17311 was produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in just seven months - a record for taking a chart from survey to print, the agency said last week.

The chart was requested by both the U.S. Coast Guard and the cruise ship industry, and was unveiled aboard the NOAA ship Rainier, which conducted the survey at the head of Tracy Arm in October. The ship carries computer equipment that can process millions of data points from the ocean floor to create accurate 3-D models.

Under the command of Capt. Dan Herlihy, the Rainier found the new survey data for Chart 17311 was consistent with the last survey, done in 1997. However, the new chart will be printed on a larger scale than the old chart, making it easier to read.

``They actually did not find anything new,'' said Carol Tocco of National Marine Fisheries Service, which also uses the Rainier in its research. The new chart reaffirmed the same contours and obstacles the old chart showed, she said.

The new chart will cost $16.50. It will be available late this month at a variety of outlets, including The Observatory, Harri Plumbing and Western Auto, Tocco said.

Tracy Arm was the site of a cruise ship hitting an unidentified object on July 27, 1999. The Spirit of `98 quickly took on so much water that its 93 passengers had to be evacuated to other ships and brought to Juneau. It was on the fourth day of a weeklong cruise.

Two Snowbirds' engines damaged by ice

JUNEAU - Although the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds flew south yesterday to their next show in Florida, two of their jets remain in Juneau for repairs.

``There was an ice buildup that wound up flying into the face of the engine on two of the planes,'' said Southeast Alaska Regional Airshow coordinator Mark Farmer.

The damage occurred on Thursday, before the Snowbirds' performance on Saturday, but the show was not affected. The precision flying team of nine jets travels with two additional planes in case of emergencies.

While two Snowbird relief pilots winged over from Canada to oversee the repairs, the pilots of the damaged jets flew out of Juneau on a commercial flight yesterday to join their colleagues in the Sunshine State, Farmer said.

Once the work is completed, both pilots and jets will rejoin the rest of the Snowbirds in Florida, where they will be performing until May 10.

Auke Village Campground to reopen

JUNEAU - The Auke Village Campground, near Mile 15 of Glacier Highway, will open this season on May 4.

The U.S. Forest Service campground operates on a first-come, first-served system. It serves vehicles and tenters.

Fees for the campground are $8 per night. Campground hosts will be available until June 15 to answer questions and provide assistance. The campground will close on Sept. 29 this year.

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