Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Legislators have already filed 104 bills for consideration in this year’s session that begins on Jan. 18. On top of that, they have proposed six changes to the state constitution.
The various bills cover changes to a wide spectrum of the state’s statutes – from Drivers’ License, to the University’s Board of Regents to the state personnel board.
Among those likely to get the attention of other lawmakers is one that would add nine synthetic drugs – now legally sold under the names K-2 and Spice – to the list of 2-a substances covered under the state’s criminal system. Another would give local residents a fishing priority when an area has otherwise been restricted. And several bills would keep drivers from using cell phones in their cars.
Several bills that didn’t make it through in previous sessions are coming back. Homer Republican Paul Seaton has reintroduced his rewrite of the state’s mining tax – gaining importance as plans for the Pebble Mine and other new projects begin to show serious financial potential. Wrangell’s Peggy Wilson has reintroduced her Transportation Infrastructure Fund that would channel money to road, harbor and other transportation needs.
Oil taxes and energy projects are also on the table – from a rewrite of portions of the state’s tax code to providing energy grants to small businesses. And health care could become an interest – with bills introduced that would effectively bypass the national health care bill – that one’s by the Mat-Su’s Carl Gatto – to providing a state system to negotiate drug prices directly with manufacturers – and working through local pharmacies – to lower medical costs.
The bills will be formally read into the record and assigned to committees when the session begins.
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