Rental car tax, vandalism, community schools bills signed

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) People renting cars will help pay for state government next year under a bill signed by Gov. Frank Murkowski.

Murkowski also signed a measure doing away with state financial support for Community Schools programs and a bill that could make parents pay more for vandalism done by their children. Those were among 20 bills the governor approved Monday.

House Bill 271, which was sponsored by House Speaker Pete Kott, R-Eagle River, puts a 10 percent tax on car rentals and a 3 percent tax on recreational vehicle rentals.

It doesn't take effect until Jan. 1, 2004, so it will raise only about $1 million for the fiscal year that starts in July. After that, the state expects the tax to generate about $6 million a year and cost about $70,000 annually to administer.

The Murkowski administration proposed House Bill 165, which eliminates $500,000 in state support for school districts' Community Schools programs. Those programs provide after school and weekend classes and activities for adults and children.

House Bill 18, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, increases the amount of money parents would pay if their children intentionally damage property of school districts, municipalities, religious or charitable organizations.

It raises the limit on damages parents are liable for, increasing it from $10,000 to $15,000. If they have insurance that covers such damages, parents would be liable for up to $25,000.

Others measures signed into law include:

House Bill 46, which would let voters pick an ''issues-only'' ballot in a primary election. Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, sponsored the bill.

It addresses a concern raised by some nonpartisan voters who complained they had to chose a party ballot in last year's closed primary to vote on an initiative listed on the ballot.

House Bill 81, sponsored by Meyer, which raises the fine for violating vehicle emissions standards from $200 to $500. It also prevents a vehicle's registration from lasting longer than the expiration date of its emissions compliance certificate.

House Bill 171, sought by Murkowski, eliminates $500 per student startup grants to charter schools. The state has applied for a $495,000 federal grant to replace the state funding.

House Bill 118, by Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, would let fishermen pool their resources to deliver their fish to shore. Under current law, transporting another person's fish is illegal except by processors or tenders hired by a processor.

The bill would let fishermen hire their own tenders if the processor doesn't provide one, or pool their resources on one boat to take fish to shore. That could save individual fishermen from having to make all the trips to shore themselves.

Senate Bill 168 requires a cigarette tax stamp to be attached to every cigarette pack sold or imported into Alaska to verify that the state tax has been paid. The requirement is intended to cut down on bootlegging and illegal Internet sales of tax-free cigarettes.

The Revenue Department estimates the law will increase cigarette tax revenue by $1.7 million next year and $3.5 million in subsequent years. It expects the state will spend about $402,000 next year and $370,000 a year after that to enforce the new requirement.

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