Legislature OKs cancer, VPSO bills

Bills on voc ed, alcohol blood-level limit get last-minute approval

Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2001

Alaska lawmakers got a little tougher on drunken driving and reached a compromise on a funding program for uninsured breast and cervical cancer patients before adjourning Tuesday night. They also expanded the Village Public Safety Officer program.

The drunken-driving measure lowers the blood alcohol level at which a driver is considered intoxicated from 0.10 to 0.08. House Bill 132 also contains provisions to combat bootlegging in dry communities, where alcohol is not allowed, and makes it a felony to commit three DWIs in 10 years.

A measure that would raise the tax on alcohol by 10 cents a drink didn't make it through, nor did a comprehensive anti-drunken driving measure that would have stiffened penalties and fines and required incarcerated offenders to receive treatment.

The cancer bill, one of Gov. Tony Knowles' priorities, will take advantage of a change in federal law to allow more uninsured women into a Medicaid program for breast and cervical cancer. A conference committee of House and Senate members was needed to work out disagreements over the terms of House Bill 65.

The compromise retains a sunset provision, ending the program after two years. But the agreement calls for the state to pick up 100 percent of the costs for women diagnosed in those years if the state drops the program.

A bill providing better pay and benefits for village public safety officers if they take over parole and probation supervision in villages also made it through on the final day. The measure also calls for hiring four officers to help train and supervise VPSOs.

Legislators also finished work on a bill to distribute $4.5 million to vocational education programs at the University of Alaska, Alaska Vocational Technical Center, Kotzebue Technical Center and Galena Project Education Vocational Training Center.

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