Local bills move along

Check in with peninsula legislators’ work so far

Posted: Tuesday, April 04, 2006

State lawmakers have spent a considerable amount of time in recent weeks on landmark oil and gas production tax bills, but though that subject has dominated committee work in both the Senate and House, other pieces of legislation are navigating the committee process.

Included in that number are some sponsored by Kenai Peninsula lawmakers. Here are a few that have moved recently.

· House Bill 415, sponsored by Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, would provide an exemption from liability for people who want to allow public recreational use of their properties, such as cross-country ski trails. It recently moved out of the House Judiciary Committee and has been sent to the House Rules Committee where it awaits scheduling for the House floor.

· Another bill sponsored by Seaton, HB 418, recently got a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill would change the levy on net income charged miners under the Mining License Tax. The bill could have some impact on gravel pit operators on the Kenai Peninsula. It is expected to get another hearing in Ways and Means on Monday.

· House Bill 25, by Seaton, covers issues related to the sharing of fisheries business tax (“Raw Fish Tax”) revenues with municipalities. Currently, fish sold to a buyer within a municipality but shipped Outside for processing are treated as if they were sold to that buyer in an unincorporated area. Under those circumstances, the state gets all the tax revenue. The bill would direct revenues from these “unprocessed” resources back to the port of landing and/or borough where they were landed.

· Rep. Mike Chenault’s, R-Nikiski, House Bill 338, a measure that would give statutory authority for the Alaska Department of Public Safety to perform a fingerprint-based nationwide criminal history search on applicants for state certificates of fitness for explosives handling, has passed the House by a unanimous vote and moved to the Senate. It is currently in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.

· Rep. Kurt Olson’s, R-Kenai, House Bill 395, which would create an earlier start to the state’s fire season, thus making firefighting equipment such as tanker planes and fire teams available earlier, passed the House on March 22 by a unanimous vote (39 yes, 1 absent) and is now before the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee.

· Senate Bill 55, sponsored by Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, would give the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources the authority to transfer the remaining interest in specific state lands to the owner of the agricultural rights to that land, and requires the rights owner to pay the fair market value for the remaining interest in the land. The bill passed the Senate in February and is now before the House Finance Committee.

· Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, has a slough of bills in the works, including SB 224, making the second Wednesday of September Older Alaskans Day, which was signed into law March 24 and goes into effect June 21.

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