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Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Legislation would allow for tiny homes on ag land

The future of affordable housing on Hawaii Island could be tiny.

Legislation introduced this session by Rep. Cindy Evans (D- North Kohala, South Kohala, Kona) would allow for so-called “tiny homes” — houses that are less than 500 square feet — to be built on agricultural-zoned land for farm workers. House Bill 2 is specific to Hawaii Island.

A second bill, House Bill 1373, would authorize counties to provide zoning exemptions for tiny houses.

On Saturday, Evans, as well as Hawaii County Councilman Tim Richards and representatives from Hawaii County Councilwoman Jen Ruggles’ office, attended a community meeting hosted by One Island, a South Kona-based sustainabiliy and education organization, to discuss the legislation and how to support local tiny homes.

Held at the Algood Farm in Hawi, the meeting drew about 40 attendees from around the island, with Puna, Hilo, Honokaa and Waimea all represented.

Read more: http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/news/local-news/legislation-would-allow-tiny-homes-ag-land

Lawmakers tackle death with dignity

This could be the year Hawaii legislators pass a “death with dignity” bill, several sources say.

Such legislation would give people diagnosed with terminal illness the option of getting a prescription for an “aid-in-dying drug” to help them die peacefully, rather than suffer a prolonged, painful death.

“This is the first time in 25 years that I’ve worked with this issue that I’m saying, yes, it’s very possible,” said Scott Foster, co-founder of the Hawaii Death with Dignity Society.

A 2016 survey for advocacy group Compassion and Choices Hawaii revealed 80 percent of registered Hawaii voters support physician-prescribed life-ending medication as an option for terminally ill people.

Read more: http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/news/local-news/lawmakers-tackle-death-dignity

Alaska lawmakers mull spending cap amid deficit

JUNEAU — Alaska has never violated its constitutional spending cap, but many Republican lawmakers consider the limit too loose and want it tightened to limit future government growth.

Under the existing cap, which excludes certain types of spending, this year’s budget could not exceed $10.1 billion. Current spending falls well below that.

So far, House and Senate Republicans have proposed three constitutional measures aimed at restricting spending growth.

These come as lawmakers, faced with a gaping deficit, are expected to debate deeper budget cuts, taxes and use of earnings from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund to make ends meet.

Read more: http://juneauempire.com/state/news/2017-01-30/alaska-lawmakers-mull-spending-cap-amid-deficit

Hundreds gather in Anchorage to protest Trump's immigration ban

Hundreds of Alaskans gathered in downtown Anchorage Sunday night to join nationwide protests over President Donald Trump's executive order blocking entry to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries and suspending refugee resettlement.

As the sun set, a crowd of about 200 people stood in the cold at the corner of Seventh Avenue and C Street, near the federal courthouse.

Protest organizer Michael Patterson said he'd been motivated by a desire to give Anchorage's immigrants and refugees visible community support.

"Immigrants and refugees here need to feel safe," he said. "You need to know your community supports you."

Read more: https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/anchorage/2017/01/29/hundreds-in-anchorage-gather-to-protest-trumps-immigration-ban/

Insurance company denies $2.3 million claim for Mat-Su port repairs

WASILLA — The Matanuska-Susitna Borough could be on the hook for millions of dollars spent to repair a failing barge dock at the borough's little-used port — a repair that failed again months later.

The borough last week learned its $2.36 million insurance claim on the original damage has been denied, even as officials gear up for a permanent fix expected to cost roughly $1.5 million.

The borough got the bad news in a letter from Chubb Limited that arrived early last week, according to port director Marc Van Dongen. The letter couldn't immediately be obtained by Alaska Dispatch News.

Chubb and another insurance company covering the port denied the claim because the damage apparently started when the dock was built 16 years ago, Van Dongen said.

Read more: https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/mat-su/2017/01/29/insurance-company-denies-2-3-million-claim-for-mat-su-port-repairs/

Anchorage reaches settlement with key contractor in port lawsuit

A key contractor in the botched Port of Anchorage expansion project has settled with the Municipality of Anchorage for $3.75 million, clearing what one city attorney described as a roadblock to other settlements in the case.

Integrated Concepts and Research Corp., a subsidiary of the Virginia-based engineering and technical services corporation VSE Corp., filed a settlement notice Thursday in U.S. District Court.

ICRC was the construction project manager in the expansion project, which cost more than $300 million and left Anchorage with a dock that couldn't be used.

This is the fourth settlement reached in the port litigation, but ICRC is at the center of the web of contractors.

Read more: https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/anchorage/2017/01/26/anchorage-reaches-settlement-with-key-contractor-in-port-lawsuit/

Walker introduces bill to comply with Real ID Act

Gov. Bill Walker introduced legislation on Monday that would bring the state in compliance with the Real ID Act and prevent travel restrictions on Alaskans.

The Alaska Legislature passed a law in 2008 forbidding state funds to go toward implementing the federal law, which changes requirements for identification cards like driver's licenses.

Passed by Congress in 2005, the law is designed to strengthen national security. Some states pushed back against it, citing privacy concerns.

Walker noted in an announcement that the federal government has started enforcing the law, and if action is not taken residents risk being unable to enter military bases or go through airport security without a passport or another federally issued identification.

Read more: https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/2017/01/23/walker-introduces-bill-to-comply-with-real-id-act/

Anchorage investor tries to torpedo state income tax

One of the wealthiest Alaskans has launched a personal campaign against a statewide income tax, a policy that would likely take the most from the state's highest earners.

Investor Bob Gillam, who Forbes says is worth $320 million, is running radio and statewide newspaper ads pushing for the adoption of budget cuts and lower oil taxes instead of income taxes, which he claims are linked to "economic decline" in other states.

"Alaska does not need an income tax. We need oil in the pipeline," says the radio ad's narrator.

The ad also claims, without citing a source, that Alaska's budget "has more than doubled." State spending has actually been reduced to the same level as 10 years ago, according to a legislative analysis this month.

Read more: https://www.adn.com/politics/2017/01/27/anchorage-investor-tries-to-torpedo-state-income-tax/

Deficit-reduction bills from Walker would freeze pay for 2,250 state workers

JUNEAU — Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has unveiled legislation to freeze wages for about 2,250 non-union state workers over the next two years — a move that would fulfill a deficit-reduction pledge Walker made when he introduced his budget proposal last month.

House Bill 71 and Senate Bill 31, if passed by the Legislature, would cancel annual "merit increases" received by state workers like high-level Walker appointees and legislative staffers, as well as employees of agencies like the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.

Another 2,800 university workers would be affected but their salaries are already frozen under the university system's next budget, which takes effect in July, said spokeswoman Robbie Graham.

The legislation would also give Walker authority to turn down a portion of his own $145,000 salary — discretion he currently does not have.

Read more: https://www.adn.com/politics/2017/01/23/new-deficit-reduction-bill-from-alaska-gov-walker-would-freeze-pay-for-2250-state-workers/

Rural Alaska legislator billed state more than $20,000 to ship appliances, piano

State Sen. Donny Olson billed the state more than $20,000 over two years to ship appliances and a shop and studio's worth of equipment from his Juneau residence to his home in Golovin, near Nome.

Among the 7,381 pounds of stuff that went from Juneau to Golovin in 2015 and 2016, but not the other way around: a washer and a dryer, a piano, four air compressors, building supplies, enlarger parts, a band saw, a basketball backboard, lawn chairs, four weight benches, three fans and three vacuums, according to Olson's shipping inventories.

"It is egregious to bill the Legislative Affairs Agency for three air compressors in one year," wrote Pam Varni, executive director of the Legislative Affairs Agency in a Nov. 30 letter to Olson. "You also stated the wood was for your woodworking hobby. Your hobby is not a legitimate business purpose.

Varni accused him of violating the Legislature's moving policy, though she also acknowledged that it's more expensive to move a big family between Juneau and Golovin.

Read more: https://www.adn.com/politics/2017/01/22/rural-alaska-legislator-billed-state-more-than-20000-in-two-years-to-ship-appliances-piano/
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