Governor signs nearly a dozen bills

Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) Business license fees are going up, the state's contribution to some drug and alcohol treatment programs is going down, and it should become easier to develop shallow natural gas resources.

Those are among the effects of nearly a dozen bills Gov. Frank Murkowski signed into law late last week. The measures include:

Senate Bill 124, which increases the required local match from 10 percent to 25 percent for nonprofits or municipalities applying for some state drug and alcohol treatment and prevention grants.

Some organizations that provide treatment have said the bill might force them to cut staff because they would not be able to come up with the higher local contribution.

Administration officials say programs providing treatment for young people or women with children would not have to pay more, nor would programs receiving grants of less than $30,000.

The state expects to save $1.6 million by making the change.

House Bill 69, which lets the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission streamline a waiver to its regulations if needed to prevent delays in developing shallow gas wells.

It also lets the state waive compliance with local ordinances when it comes to shallow natural gas if the Department of Natural Resources demonstrates there's an overriding state interest.

House Bill 160, which streamlines the state's air permit process. The bill differentiates between major and minor air pollution sources and lets Alaska exempt sources from permitting requirements to the extent allowed under federal law.

House Bill 162, which raises business license fees from $25 a year to $100 a year. The exception is for sole proprietors older than 65, who would pay just $50 a year.

The bill also lets the Department of Natural Resources increase State Recorder's Office fees by regulation. The changes are expected to raise about $6.3 million a year.

House Bill 245, which gives state and local governments protection from most lawsuits over search and rescue, firefighting and civil defense operations. The bill also gives the state immunity from most lawsuits by members of the military services.

House Bill 154, which prohibits school districts from offering two-year kindergarten, a practice some rural districts had begun because preschool was unavailable. The change will save about $3.9 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

House Bill 242, which re-establishes an audit function in the governor's office.

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