Alaska Digest

staff and Wire reports

Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Auke Bay man accused of threatening wife

JUNEAU - Police arrested a 50-year-old man on a felony charge of third-degree domestic-violence assault after he allegedly threatened his wife with a knife Monday.

The assault allegedly occurred at an Auke Bay residence. Police reported that they responded at 7:21 p.m. Monday to a woman's report that she and one of her children had been assaulted by her husband.

Police reported that after investigating, they arrested the man without incident, charging him with the felony charge and two counts of misdemeanor fourth-degree domestic-violence assault.

Police lodged him at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Democrats urge governor to look at oil taxes

ANCHORAGE - Democratic legislators called on Gov. Frank Murkowski Tuesday to consider oil taxation as part of the upcoming special session.

In a letter, four state representatives and two senators asked Murkowski to revive twin bills they sponsored that would change the structure of the state's oil production tax to bring in more money. The "Alaska fair share" bills died in the House and Senate when the regular session ended May 11.

"In the long term," the lawmakers wrote, "we need a tax structure that meets the state's constitutional duty to maximize the revenue we receive from our oil while encouraging oil production. We'd be happy to work with you to help ensure that we do both."

Or Murkowski could choose to come up with a temporary solution "if you are unable to commit to a long-term fix" - particularly while oil prices continue to peak. North Slope crude closed at $39.99 a barrel Tuesday.

Citing state Department of Revenue figures, Rep. Les Gara of Anchorage said at $40 a barrel, the state's share in oil production taxes would be $739 million. The bill would raise an additional $1 billion in annual revenue.

"We're giving away money when we're not getting the maximum benefits possible from our oil," Gara said at a joint news conference with Sen. Hollis French of Anchorage. The two signed the letter along with other sponsors of the bills - Sen. Kim Elton of Juneau and Reps. Beth Kerttula of Juneau, David Guttenberg of Fairbanks and Eric Croft of Anchorage.

Revenue Commissioner Bill Corbus, speaking for the Republican governor, said the administration does not believe the special session is an appropriate venue for oil legislation.

State GOP opposes Young land buy bill

FAIRBANKS - Alaska Republicans oppose a bill by Rep. Don Young to spend more than $3 billion a year on public land purchases, recreational facilities and conservation projects.

State GOP delegates passed a resolution opposing the proposed Get Outdoors Act last weekend at its convention in Soldotna.

Young, a Republican, announced the bill last month with co-sponsor Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. It would direct about $175 million a year to Alaska for a variety of purposes-land purchases, wildlife management, conservation projects and recreational facility improvements.

The money would come from offshore oil and gas leases, and most would go to coastal states such as Alaska. The expenditure would be automatic, similar to the nation's highway funding system, rather than subject to the annual appropriations process in Congress.

Shipping company changes hands again

ANCHORAGE - Horizon Lines, one of the biggest shipping companies operating in Alaska, has been sold for the second time in 17 months.

The Washington-based Carlyle Group is selling the company for $650 million - more than twice what it paid - to Castle Harlan Inc., another private-equity investment firm in New York.

Horizon Lines, based in Charlotte, N.C., is one of Alaska's two dominant domestic ocean-shipping companies. Along with Totem Ocean Trailer Express, they supply the state with the majority of the goods that are imported to Alaska - everything from cars and building supplies to clothing and groceries.

The Carlyle Group in December 2002 paid $300 million for a roughly 90 percent stake in Horizon Lines from its previous owner, CSX Corp.

Few Alaska seniors choose drug option

JUNEAU - Very few low-income older Alaskans have signed up for a prescription drug benefit offered through the state's new SeniorCare program. Most are opting instead for monthly cash payments, although that option is worth less money for people with high drug bills.

Of the roughly 7,900 people who had signed up by early May for SeniorCare, just 14 opted for the drug benefit, said Sherry Hill, a special assistant in the state Department of Health and Social Services.

That program started after Gov. Frank Murkowski vetoed funding for the longevity bonus program, which had provided monthly stipends of up to $250, regardless of income, to Alaskans who were 65 or older by the end of 1996.

A senior citizen making less than $15,701 a year can choose between a monthly stipend of $120 or a prescription benefit of $1,600 a year.

An older Alaskan making less than $17,445 a year can receive only the prescription benefit - and at a reduced level of $1,000 a year.

People with questions about the program can call 269-3680 in Anchorage, 800-478-6065 statewide or visit www.seniorcare.alaska.gov.



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