Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, June 01, 2006

Celebration includes marrow registry drive

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JUNEAU - A bone marrow registry drive has been arranged for Celebration 2006 to help find potential donor matches for people in need.

The marrow drive will be held Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Goldbelt Hotel and at St. Paul's Church. On Saturday it will begin at 9 a.m.

Marrow transplants can help fight a number of diseases, including leukemia. Among the hardest donor matches to find are minorities, particularly Filipinos and Alaska Natives.

The testing does not require blood to be drawn from potential donors, but rather a swab of their cheek.

A similar drive led to a bone marrow transplant for Juneau's Alex Cesar, the recipient of last month's Cancer Connection Youth Inspiration Award.

Halcro chooses a running mate

ANCHORAGE - Independent gubernatorial candidate Andrew Halcro on Wednesday announced his running mate will be former Republican Rep. Ken Lancaster of Soldotna.

Lancaster, 63, served in the Alaska House from 2000 to 2002, with a seat on the House Finance Committee. He left Juneau after his first term, citing the harshly partisan climate of the Legislature, according to a media release from Halcro.

On the Kenai Peninsula, Lancaster started his own real estate company, which develops residential and commercial property. He also served as mayor of Soldotna from 1993 to 2000 and as president of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce.

As independent candidates, Halcro and Lancaster can bypass the Aug. 22 primary elections but will need to collect 3,145 signatures statewide to qualify for the November ballot.

Murkowski introduces three gas pipeline bills

JUNEAU - Gov. Frank Murkowski on Wednesday introduced three bills meant to smooth the way for ratification of his contract proposal with three oil companies to develop the North Slope's natural gas.

One of the bills would amend the state's Stranded Gas Development Act, the law under which Murkowski has negotiated a deal with ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC for recovering the North Slope's 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.

That contract must be approved by the Legislature to become effective. But the deal Murkowski and the companies negotiated goes beyond the scope of the Stranded Gas Development Act, so the governor must first ask lawmakers to change the act to make the contract legal.

The bill would allow the governor to negotiate existing oil and gas tax agreements with the companies as part of a gas deal. Current law now prohibits "significantly altering tax and royalty methodologies and rates on existing oil and gas infrastructure and production."

Murkowski intends to ask the Legislature to ratify a contract proposal that would freeze the three companies' tax and royalty rates 30 years for oil and 45 years for gas. Many lawmakers have questioned that provision.

Another bill would give the Alaska Supreme Court original jurisdiction for review of a contract. The third bill would create a public corporation within the Department of Revenue called the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Corp., to finance, own and manage the state's interest in the pipeline.

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