Whittier private prison bill introduced

Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- Two Anchorage lawmakers are sponsoring a bill calling for a 1,200-bed private prison to be built in Whittier.

Republican Reps. Norm Rokeberg and Mike Hawker filed the bill on Friday that would also add 450 beds to existing prisons in Fairbanks, Seward, Bethel and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

The bill lets the state enter into a 25-year contract with the city of Whittier, which would contract with a private company to build and run the prison. A similar measure failed to pass the Legislature last year.

''It's my belief that a mix of both private and public facilities are important to contain costs and provide safe institutions for the people of Alaska,'' Rokeberg said.

Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski came out in opposition to private prisons during his election campaign last fall.

The prison bill was one of 13 filed Friday, prior to the Tuesday's start of the legislative session.

Other new measures include:

-- A bill allowing the state to continue pay and benefits to state employees called to military service by reserves or the National Guard. It is sponsored by Sens. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, and Robin Taylor, R-Wrangell.

-- A measure by Sen. Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, to establish a teachers' housing loan program.

-- A bill requiring a written notice to neighbors and a $25 permit to spray commercial pesticides. It is sponsored by Sen. Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage.

-- A bill to require a minimum sentence for anyone convicted of assaulting teachers or members of the clergy while they are at work. It is sponsored by Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage.

The measures released Friday bring to 93 the number of bills and resolutions filed in advance of the legislative session.

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