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FROM JUNEAU: Week 15
by Senator Loren Leman
April 20, 2001
With 18 days left in the legislative session we are on schedule
for an orderly adjournment on or before the May 8 deadline. The
number of bills heard in committee and on the daily Senate and House
calendars is increasing, and during this time bills may be brought
before committees on 24-hour notice. If you are interested in a
particular piece of legislation be sure to check often for updates.
COMMITTEE MAKES PROGRESS: The Conference Committee working on
the Operating and Mental Health budgets met frequently this week
and Thursday agreed on budgets for the Court System and the Departments
of Fish and Game, Labor, Natural Resources and Revenue (except for
one item). It will continue to meet through this weekend.
ON THE RAILROAD: The Senate on Thursday passed SB 123, which
provides for more legislative oversight of Alaska Railroad construction.
Large, federally funded construction projects and track realignments
will be submitted to the Legislature at the beginning of each session,
and we will have 60 days to disapprove by law. Smaller projects,
repairs and maintenance will not be affected. I supported this legislation.
The bill is now in the House Transportation Committee.
COST CONTROL: On Wednesday the Senate HESS Committee heard testimony
on Alaskas Medicaid program. Budgeted at $561 million for
FY 2002, Medicaid costs have been rising rapidly ($75 million total
this year), and the Republican Majoritys commitment to budget
discipline requires us to examine ways to save money in this area
while still providing essential coverage to those who need it. These
discussions are the beginning of a plan to do that.
IN L&C: Two pieces of business legislation were heard in the
Senate Labor and Commerce Committee on Thursday. Senate Bill 176,
Distributorships, protects Alaska distributors of products from
planes to paperclips from being harmed by manufacturers that change
or abandon business agreements with little or no notice. Businesspeople
testified that millions of dollars have been lost by Alaska businesses
when national companies engage in these practices. Senate Bill 189,
Motor Vehicle Sales and Dealers, will establish in law the rules
for agreements between the automobile manufacturers and Alaska dealers,
establish licensing for car dealers and salespeople, and give Alaska
a comprehensive motor vehicle sales law. Although this bill has
broad support among Alaska businesses, major auto manufacturers
expressed some concerns. Work on both of the bills will continue
at the next hearing on April 24.
PAY A VISIT: Sometimes neighbors have to travel pretty far to see
each other. I enjoyed visiting this week in my office with Anchorage
neighbors. Andy Anderson (photo)
a retired Alaska Airlines pilot, discussed the new Lake Hood floatplane
regulations. Marilyn Kasmar is a registered nurse and Executive
Director of the Alaska Primary Care Association. We discussed health
care availability. Another special visitor was Dick Hawkins, a classmate
of mine in Ninilchik from the 4th grade through high school. He
is an elementary school teacher in Anchorage. We talked about incentives
to hire and retain teachers.
If you know of
other Alaskans who would like to receive my weekly report by email,
me or 465-2095, or visit my website.