Governor Speaks to Chamber, Signs Eight Bills in Kenai
July 01, 2004
Murkowski said the package of crime bills signed Tuesday add up to the most comprehensive action taken by the Legislature on fighting crime in many years. Murkowski said,"Closing loopholes in existing laws and extending greater protection to Alaska's children will mean a brighter future for all of us. The crime package, coupled with new troopers, prosecutors, and social workers that we included in the FY05 budget, translates to safer streets and neighborhoods. So, I want to thank the legislators who worked with my administration to get the crime bills enacted."
The bills signed by the governor in Kenai include:
HB 524, introduced by the governor, is a main component of the Department of Environmental Conservation's "Raindrops-to-Oceans" initiative, which establishes a more rational and efficient water protection program for the state. The overall goal of the initiative is to provide reasonable protection of the water column in Alaska, from the moment the raindrop falls, through to its destination in the ocean. HB 524 allows DEC to select from a range of tools to authorize waste disposal activities, depending on the level of risk to the environment. For example, individual permits would apply to complex, high-risk activities, general permits would apply to medium risk activities, and permits by rule would apply to low risk activities.
"During my campaign for governor, I committed to work toward long overdue permit streamlining," Murkowski said. "Working with Alaska businesses, we were able to get this bill passed and I am signing it today as a reflection of our commitment to not just talk about reform, but to deliver results.
"The result is good for Alaska businesses and good for our environment. We continue to require the use of high environmental standards to protect Alaska's water, but apply those standards in a way that makes more sense and considers Alaska specific criteria.
We will now have access to permitting tools to issue permits by rule - for low risk activities, plan approvals, and integrated waste management permits for complex facilities requiring more than one permit, and the authorization to extend individual and general permits to keep a project going."
HB 486, also introduced by governor, requires mining reclamation bonds. "The bill is a positive example of the resource industry working with the state to protect Alaska's environment," Murkowski said. "There was general agreement that Alaska's reclamation law needed to be updated for the 21st century, by not just addressing placer mines but also the state's larger mines. By creating a mine reclamation trust fund and other financial assurance requirements, the new law will assure the public that funds will be available for long-term or perpetual reclamation needs of large mines."
Today, Alaska has an active placer mine industry plus a robust large mine industry: Red Dog, Greens Creek, Fort Knox, True North, and now Pogo. Alaska hopes to permit many new large mines in the future: Donlin Creek, Pebble Copper, Kensington and others.
HB 417, sponsored by Kenai Rep. Mike Chenault, which makes it clear that the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority will study the possibility of bringing North Slope natural gas to Cook Inlet. Expanding the statutes allows ANGDA to not only look at a gas pipeline to export LNG from Cook Inlet, it also broadens ANGDA's mandate to include a spur line, providing gas for local uses throughout South Central. "A spur line to the Kenai for local use and to export LNG will have a positive impact on the Kenai Peninsula Borough ensuring a long-term stable supply of energy to power the region's economy," Murkowski said.
HB 275, also sponsored by Rep. Chenault, establishes minimum standards of care for animals, such as food and water sufficient to maintain an animal in good health. It also creates a new crime of cruelty to animals as a Class A misdemeanor. The bill is in response to several high profile cases of animal mistreatment in the last several years.
SB 136, sponsored by Kenai Senator Tom Wagoner, raises the amount a local municipality may exempt from each residential property from $10,000 to $20,000 when determining local property tax. The goal is to provide more flexibility on a local level on how they want to raise revenue.
SB 190, also sponsored by Sen. Wagoner, implements additions to the Kenai River Special Management Area called for by the management plan adopted in 1997 and the 2000 Kenai Area Plan. Both plans were developed with significant input from the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the Kenai River Special Management Area advisory board, the Department of Natural Resources and various other stakeholder groups. In addition, the bill makes state and federal employees non-voting members of the advisory board in order to return more local control to the board.
SB 309, also sponsored by Sen. Wagoner, establishes a process for testing prisoners for blood-borne pathogens when a correctional officer receive significant exposure, such as blood of a prisoner. The bill will help physicians determine if a correctional officer was exposed to HIV or Hepatitis in order to provide the appropriate medical treatment to the officer.
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