SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Bills to Help Locate Missing Alaskans, State Income Tax, Early Retirement, Permanent AST Filed


January 31, 2021
Sunday PM

(SitNews) - Numberous bills have been filed for consideration by the Alaska's 32nd Legislature 2021-2022.

Friday, Senator Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks), introduced legislation to help locate missing persons in Alaska.   

Senate Bill 63 would allow a court to grant a family member or friend – on a temporary and limited basis only – access to view bank and phone records if they have reason to believe a loved one has gone missing.

“Successfully finding a missing person requires quick action,” said Sen. Bishop. “This bill will give the friends and family of a missing person the tools to begin searching immediately and share the information with law enforcement, as necessary. I want to thank the Tanana Chiefs Conference, which brought this proposal forward and asked for my help. I immediately agreed because I am very alarmed by the high number of people who have gone missing, especially in the Fairbanks area. I will continue to do everything in my power to help.”

A vigil was held Saturday in Fairbanks where hundreds of community members gathered to raise awareness of the high number of people who have recently gone missing, many of whom are Alaska Native. 

“We thank Senator Bishop for introducing legislation which will significantly improve investigations of missing Alaskans,” said Chief PJ Simon, Chairman of the Tanana Chiefs Conference. “Today, the Senator’s bill sends a clear message that our missing family members matter. TCC will continue working with Senator Bishop to see that this bill is passed into law and our missing receive the attention and justice they deserve.”

Recently, Senator Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) filed legislation, Senate Bill 6, to implement a temporary, voluntary retirement incentive program to increase state savings by allowing public employees to retire early. Long-serving public employees are usually higher paid in the state. In many cases, pensions paid to retired employees cost the state less money than their current salaries. Providing higher salaried employees the option to retire early would save Alaska money through lower personnel costs.

“Alaska still faces a significant budget deficit and taking an axe to essential services and claiming we all need to live within our means is taking the easy way out. We need to seek creative solutions to close that gap,” said Sen. Kawasaki. “A retirement incentive program is a good way to save money, shrink the government payroll, and balance the budget all while preventing layoffs. Instead of laying off the lowest-paid employees, older, higher-paid employees who want to retire can choose to do so.”

Instituting a retirement incentive program will provide an opportunity for more junior public employees to fill those vacancies left by early retirees. Senate Bill 6 applies to school districts and public employees, including the University of Alaska. The program allows state employees to retire three years early at the discretion of the administration. 

In 1986, Senator Jim Duncan passed legislation creating a temporary retirement incentive program. A Legislative Audit of the 1989 Retirement Incentive Program demonstrated a savings of $22.9 million with 1,764 individual participants. In 2016, the Judicial Branch implemented a retirement incentive program and saved more than $680,000 across 14 positions. Retirement incentive programs are regularly used in the private sector to efficiently control personnel costs through market incentives rather than heavy-handed layoffs.

Rep. Sarah Hannan (D-Juneau, Lemon Creek, Douglas Island, Skagway, Haines, Klukwan, Gustavus and Excursion Inlet) has introduced HB9 INCOME TAX; PFD PAYMENT/CREDIT, a complicated Alaska income tax bill.

SJR 7 SENATE RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR: Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to prohibiting the establishment of a state tax without the approval of the voters of the state; and relating to the initiative process.

Rep. Daniel Ortiz (I-Ketchikan) has introduced HB 31 a mariculture bill and a bill HB 31 to observe Day Light Savings Time all year in Alaska.

For a full list of bills filed, click on the link below.


On the Web:

Full List of Bills Filed 32nd Legislature 2021-2022


Edited By Mary Kauffman, SitNews

Source of News:

Alaska Legislature

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