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Briefs from the Alaska Legislature

Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Two Republican state senators were named to chair key committees vacated by former Sen. Drue Pearce, who left in June to take a job with the Bush administration in Washington, D.C.

Sens. Ben Stevens and Randy Phillips were approved Monday to chairmanships by the state Senate Committee on Committees.

Stevens, the son of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, will chair the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee. Stevens, of Anchorage, was first appointed to fill Pearce's seat in July by Gov. Tony Knowles.

Stevens will also sit on the Resources Committee and the State Affairs Committee.

Phillips, R-Eagle River, was named as chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. Senate President Rick Halford, R-Chugiak, was also named to the Rules Committee.

Sen. Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, will also replace Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, on the Resources Committee. Wilken will serve as vice chairman of the committee.

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JUNEAU (AP) -- A bill to continue Medicaid coverage for women diagnosed with breast and cervical cancer has been introduced by Gov. Tony Knowles.

The bill would remove the expiration deadline that lawmakers added to legislation originally sponsored by Knowles and passed last year.

Knowles said an unusual ''sense of the House'' vote held at the end of last session showed strong support in the Legislature for ending the two-year sunset provision in the law.

Under the program, 24 Alaska women were diagnosed with breast cancer and 105 diagnosed with cervical cancer in fiscal year 2001.

Knowles named the bill in memory of Barbara DuBois, who testified in favor of the original bill while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. DuBois has since died.

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JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles introduced a package of anti-terrorism bills Monday that he said would provide for Alaska's security and strengthen laws dealing with terrorism.

A spending bill would cover the costs incurred in fulfilling immediate anti-terrorism requirements such as airport security.

Other measures would:

-- Increase penalties for acts of terrorism, such as damaging or tampering with an oil or gas pipeline or supporting facilities, and address hoaxes similar to anthrax scares that surfaced this year.

-- Authorize the governor to exercise emergency civil defense powers in the event of terrorist attacks or credible threats of attack. Currently, the governor may only do so after an attack has taken place.

-- Allow state employees who are members of the reserve or auxiliary military to continue to receive state salaries and benefits if activated.

-- Allow penalties of up to $1,100 for violating airport security.

-- Enact a mutual aid agreement with other states for assistance during emergencies.

The measures would implement recommendations from the administration's Terrorism Disaster Policy Cabinet, which was formed following attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

The plan costs $46.7 million in state funds, $48.8 million in federal funds and $6.6 million from other sources.



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