Eagle River senator introduces measure to move legislative session to Mat-Su

Number of bills filed on deadline day

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- A bill to move the legislative session to the Matanuska Susitna Borough was introduced in the Legislature on Tuesday.

Sen. Randy Phillips, R-Eagle River, introduced the bill to move the Legislature by the start of 2005.

Phillips said through a sponsor statement that the bill mirrors an initiative to put the legislative move on the 2002 November ballot.

Alaskans for Efficient Government turned in more than 40,000 signatures on the initiative to the state Division of Elections for certification.

Those signatures are being reviewed by the department.

A lawsuit is also pending, according to the division's Web site.

Phillips said the move would put the Legislature closer to a majority of state residents, provide easier access to elected officials and save money in the long run.

But groups opposed to the initiative say it is a veiled attempt to move the capital out of Juneau.

Ballot initiatives aimed at moving the capital have come before voters several times. In 1976 voters picked Willow as the new state capital, but balked two years later on approving the $966 million cost of the move.

A similar vote in 1982 to spend $2.8 billion to move the capital also failed.

Phillips' bill was one of a number of bills that surfaced Tuesday as lawmakers faced a deadline to introduce legislation.

Other bills included measures on hate crimes, education, consolidating government and taxes.

Rep. Bill Hudson, R-Juneau, introduced a bill to impose a 50 percent tax on residents' permanent fund dividends. It is House Bill 459.

Other measures included a bill by Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, to require school districts with fewer than 100 students to consolidate with other districts.

A number of nonbinding resolutions were also introduced. One urges the President and Congress to support a natural gas pipeline being built through Alaska. Another calls for re-imposing a moratorium on fish farming in British Columbia.

A Senate bill would require regions that are not covered by a borough form of government to do so by January 2005. Sen. Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 323.

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