Juneau will formally welcome legislators Wednesday at a Centennial Hall reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m. At 7 p.m., Gov. Sean Parnell will deliver his annual State of the State Address.
“Looking forward to having everybody back in town,” she says. “We’ve developed really good camaraderie with people from all over the state and I’m really looking forward to seeing them again.”
“It’s one of the great things about Juneau and one of the great things about the beginning of session,” she says. “Everybody does come in, I think, with a sense of optimism for the next year. You know that we really can join together to do good things for the people.”
Kerttula is beginning her sixth year as leader of the House Democratic Minority. She expects oil and gas and retirement issues will be major policy arguments this session.
Kerttula has introduced one bill – HB 257 – which would give the Violent Crimes Compensation Board more flexibility to help cold case victims.
“That kind of pain doesn’t go away and it shouldn’t matter whether the case gets resolved one week after the crime has happened, or 10 or 20 years later,” she says. “It’s still important that the state and Violent Crimes Compensation Board can be there to help victims.”
Kerttula says she was inspired to sponsor the bill after getting to know the mother of a victim of a case that was not resolved for many years.
Munoz also has introduced legislation this session inspired by Alaskans – naturopaths, pharmacists, realtors and homebuilders.
One bill sounds like it was written expressly for Juneau, with its lack of affordable housing. Munoz says HB 264 would let municipalities defer property tax increases after lots are subdivided.
“Once a developer comes in and subdivides land and puts in all the improvements – the sidewalks, water and sewer, — the city then reassesses that land at fair market value, according to state law,” she explains.
Munoz calls that a disincentive. “The developer is taxed with this higher assessment immediately, even before the lots have sold,” she says.
She believes if cities could defer the tax, it would encourage housing development.
Munoz and Kerttula’s bills are among those filed prior to the start of the session and will be assigned to committees today.
Lawmakers now have 90 days to complete their work.
- Officials with the Air Force and other agencies are asking members of the public to weigh in on several proposals to provide drinking water to Moose Creek residents who can’t use their wells because of groundwater contamination.
- Fishermen are selling more salmon than the Yukon River’s only buyer can handle. Record-breaking sales Monday closed a commercial opening for fishermen upriver.
- The table was set for awkwardness. Murkowski was placed one senator away from the president, on his left. West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito was just as near, on his right side. She is another senator who said “no” to repealing the ACA without a replacement. Between her and the president: Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, an early critic of the Senate health care bill.
- A state official estimates the latest rating downgrades could cost the state an extra $5 million to $6 million over 20 years on a $100 million transportation bond issuance.