Knowles signs 27 bills, vetoes three

Posted: Tuesday, July 09, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles signed into law more than two dozen bills Monday, changing a plethora of rules and regulations affecting everything from commercial salmon fishing to a scooter not yet on the market.

Knowles also vetoed a bill to revise future constitutional conventions and another that would have made it more difficult for local governments to consolidate.

The consolidation bill was sponsored by a lawmaker in Fairbanks, where voters last year overwhelmingly rejected a merger with the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

''This legislation creates a potential for the 'tail to wag the dog' in any future merger or consolidation election,'' Knowles said in vetoing the bill.

House Bill 296, sponsored by Rep. Jim Whitaker, R-Fairbanks, would have required more voter support of mergers and shortened the time to petition for such a move.

It would have required a majority of voters in each of the areas to be consolidated to vote for such a move before it takes place. Currently mergers and consolidations require a majority of voters within the entire area to vote for the change.

Supporters of consolidating governments would also have one year to collect signatures to put such a proposal on the ballot.

Knowles said Whitaker's measure would have made future mergers and consolidations ''more difficult, if not impossible.''

A plan to merge the city of Fairbanks with the Fairbanks North Star Borough was overwhelmingly rejected again last summer. Voters within the city were uniformly against the measure.

Most recently, residents in the Haines Borough voted 556-405 to merge with the city of Haines during an election in June. Election results show residents outside the city voted 4-1 against consolidation.

Knowles also vetoed Senate Bill 370, which would have increased the number of future constitutional convention delegates to 60, one for each legislative district.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, also would have required delegates to follow the same campaign contribution limits and prohibitions as legislators.

Alaska voters will again consider whether to hold a constitutional convention in November.

Knowles signed into law 27 bills approved by legislators this year. Among them:

-- House Bill 286 allows salmon fishermen to hold more than one permit and allows salmon associations to assess a tax on members. The measure is intended to allow the industry to reduce the size of its fleet.

-- House Bill 288 eliminates the requirement that a fishing permit buyback include vessels and gear. It also allows fishermen to voluntarily relinquish their permit.

-- House Bill 397 makes clear that operators of off-road vehicles such as snowmachines and watercraft do not need an Alaska drivers license.

-- Senate Bill 339 raises the maximum fines courts may impose for certain crimes. The fine for murder and some other offenses increases to $500,000 and a violation increases to $500. It takes effect in 90 days.

-- Senate Bill 100 allows the state and municipalities to regulate electronic personal motor vehicles on sidewalks.

The bill takes aim at the Segway Human Transponder, a one-person, battery-powered, gyroscope-stabilized scooter that is expected to go on sale to the public later this year.

Alaska joins several other states in passing laws regulating the scooters, which have been touted by inventor Dean Kamen as a way to revolutionize short-distance travel.

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