Bills that didn't pass may be back

Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2004

Lawmakers in the 23rd Alaska Legislature passed 414 bills and resolutions this session, more than a third of the 1,132 introduced since January 2003.

They closed the session on Tuesday with talk of calling themselves back into a special session to deal with a long-range fiscal plan, a tobacco tax and worker's-compensation laws.

Some are concerned that a special session called by the Legislature, as opposed to one called by the governor, would open the floodgate to bills that died during the regular session.

Here is a look back at some of the legislation that passed this session and other bills that didn't but might return with a vengeance.

Bills that passed:

• Senate vacancies - House Bill 414 by Rep. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, requires a special election for vacancies in the U.S. Senate, rather than appointment by the governor. The bill was filed largely to prevent a statewide initiative from making it on the ballot during the campaign for U.S. Senate by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who was appointed by her father, Gov. Frank Murkowski. The proposal still awaits the governor's signature.

• Graduated driver's license - House Bill 213 by Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, requires teenagers to spend more time behind the wheel before getting an unrestricted license. The bill still awaits the governor's signature.

• Senior Care program - House Bill 374 by Gov. Frank Murkowski provides cash assistance and prescription drug benefits to seniors waiting for federal benefits plans to begin in 2006. The bill was signed by the governor and went into effect in April.

• Fish and meat labeling resolutions - House Joint Resolution 25 and House Joint Resolution 32 by Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, support labeling beef by country of origin and salmon by whether farmed or fresh, respectively.

• End of life health care - House Bill 25 by Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, establishes the Health Care Decisions Act, which codifies of end-of-life health care regulations.

• Open meetings - House Bill 563 by Rep. Norm Rokeberg, R-Anchorage, allows closed-door meetings by members of the Legislature. The bill still awaits the governor's signature.

Bills that died but might return:

• Cruise ship head tax - House Bill 207 by Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer, establishes a $100 cruise ship head tax.

• Library records - Senate Bill 269 by Sen. Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, would allow parents to access their children's public library records.

• Tobacco tax - Senate Bill 368 by Gov. Frank Murkowski would establish a $1 tobacco tax hike.

• Percent of market value - House Joint Resolution by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee would establish a percent-of-market-value approach to managing the Alaska Permanent Fund. The new management measure would inflation-proof the entire fund and provide 5 percent of the value of the fund annually.

• Permanent fund for government - House Bill 298 by the Ways and Means Committee would use the 5 percent of earnings under a percent-of-market-value structure for dividends and government. Dividends would receive half, 45 percent would go to the state, and 5 percent would go to municipalities. Dividends would increase by a few hundred dollars in the first couple of years and then decline by several hundred dollars in future years.

• Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothy.inklebarger@juneauempire.com.



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