Murkowski signs tire tax, nuisance-wildlife bills

Posted: Thursday, July 03, 2003

Gov. Frank Murkowski signed six new bills into law Tuesday, ranging from a tax on tire sales to a measure to regulate nuisance wildlife.

The new tax on tires charges $2.50 for regular tires and an additional $5, for a total of $7.50, for studded tires sold in the state.

The tax on regular tires takes effect Sept. 26 and the additional studded tire tax takes effect July 1, 2004.

It is expected to raise about $2.4 million in 2004 and about $3.2 million annually in future years.

According to the state Department of Transportation, the fee will be collected on approximately 1.25 million new regular tires and 40,000 new studded tires a year.

"I think the general intention of the Legislature and the governor was to offset the cost of highway maintenance and construction," said Murkowski spokesman John Manly.

Manly noted, however, that revenue generated by the tax cannot be dedicated for any particular purpose and will go into the state's general fund account, which is used to pay for all state services.

Another bill signed by Murkowski, by Anchorage Republican Sen. Lyda Green, gives the Alaska Board of Game the authority to license designees to control nuisance birds and small mammals.

Green could not be reached for comment, but a sponsor statement on Senate Bill 147 noted: "It creates a process by which individuals can call up Fish and Game, and the department can provide them with the name of a certified person with knowledge of these animals and their behavior patterns, to come and remove them from their premises."

Some animals that could be affected include beaver, porcupine, marmot, weasel, mink, muskrat, coyote, fox, marten, squirrel, marten, woodchuck, otter, lynx, pigeon, woodpeckers, gray jay, ravens, crows, bats, magpie, sea gulls, Canadian geese and snow geese, according to a sponsor statement by Green.

The law takes effect July 2004.

Ryan Scott, a wildlife biologist for the Department of Fish and Game, said the plan to issue licenses still is a work in progress.

He said the department does not have authority to authorize an individual to deal with nuisance wild animals.

Scott said Fish and Game typically responds to calls about wildlife if it poses a threat to public safety.

"Fish and Game gets inundated with calls about nuisance wild animals," Scott said. "We just don't have the manpower to deal with all the calls."

He said the new law would provide an opportunity for a commercial enterprise to address such problems. The bill also allows Fish and Game to charge a $100 fee for commercial licenses and issue free noncommercial licenses.

Other bills signed include:

• Senate Bill 95 by Green requires public school employees to give a 72-hour notice prior to a labor strike.

• House Bill 234 by Anchorage Republican Rep. Lesil McGuire renews the Alcoholic Beverage Control board for an additional four years. The measure also allows brewpubs to sell growlers - or small pitcher-like containers - of beer at locations where the brewery holds a beverage dispensary license.

• House Bill 269 by Anchorage Republican Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom establishes a Safety Code Task Force to advise the Legislature on a uniform safety code. The bill also establishes an advisory panel made up of individuals from industry, organizations and government.

• House Bill 257 by Anchorage Republican Rep. Norm Rokeberg changes disclosure requirements of real estate agents and makes other changes in real estate licensure law.

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