May 09, 2005
A bill approved Sunday by the Alaska Senate Finance Committee would give state lawmakers and the governor pay raises and includes a provision that would let some legislative staff keep their past years' bonuses which total $80,000.
The governor's salary would increase from $81,648 to $125,000 a year and an amendment to the bill would also increase Alaska lawmakers' pay from $2,001 to $2,249 a month. Another change to the bill would give the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the Senate an annual raise of $500.
The provision allowing lawmakers to give raises to their staff "to reward extraordinary effort, competency, job performance or uncompensated overtime" would block a lawsuit filed in March against legislative staff who were given bonuses ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 beginning in 2001. Four former Democratic lawmakers filed the March 2005 lawsuit asking a Superior Court in Juneau to declare the bonuses illegal and would require the staff members to pay the money back to the state.
The amended to the bill is valid only through Jan. 1, 2005. It would block the lawsuit and prevent future bonuses. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
House Passes workers compensation bill...
The workers compensation bill passed by the Alaska House Sunday differs greatly from Governor Murkowski's proposal which would lower employers' costs. The bill passed 36-4 and now appears likely to be headed for a conference committee.
Both the House and Senate bills freeze medical fees charged to injured workers, with the House freezing medical fees at this year's rates, the Senate at last year's. The major change however is the House's removal of an appeals commission of gubernatorial appointees. Critics say this would be biased against injured workers.
Bill passed by Senate would allow riskier Permanent Fund investments....
The Alaska Senate approved a bill 17-2 Sunday that would allow the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation trustees to have more flexibility in picking riskier investments.
The Alaska Senate also approved on Sunday bills to:
Pay premium and deductible expenses for prescription drugs for seniors with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. About 40 percent of Alaska's estimated 41,000 seniors, would be eligible according to the bill proposed by Governor Frank H. Murkowski.
Allow a borough to exempt a source from a borough sales tax that already is taxed by a city within the borough.