Coastal management bill stalled in House

With less than three weeks remaining in the legislative session, it’s looking unlikely lawmakers will pass a bill to re-establish the Alaska Coastal Management Program.

A citizens’ initiative setting up program has been approved for a statewide vote later this year. But lawmakers could pre-empt the measure with “substantially similar” legislation.

Kodiak Republican Alan Austerman – the House Majority Leader – introduced a bill that closely mirrors the initiative. But Austerman says he’s aware some House members oppose legislative action on the coastal management issue.

“We heard one of the sponsors of the initiative on the discussion at the one hearing we had talking about something that works,” Austerman told reporters Monday. “And so that’s really where our goal is, to find something that works and that’s acceptable to the legislature. Can we get there? We don’t know yet.”

Austerman’s bill had one hearing in the House Resources Committee two weeks ago. A legislative legal advisor testified that lawmakers would have significant leeway to decide what “substantially similar” means.

The group behind the initiative – the Alaska Sea Party – supports legislative action. Sea Party Chairman and Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho has said a bill passed this session would get a coastal management program up and running sooner, and avoid a costly and potentially contentious campaign to get voters to approve the initiative.

Before closing last year, the Alaska Coastal Management Program allowed the state and local communities to have greater input into federal permitting decisions along Alaska’s coastline. It also helped developers by streamlining the regulatory processes of various state and federal agencies.

The legislature failed to reauthorize it after the Parnell administration and some House Republicans fought efforts to expand the role of local communities.

Recent headlines

  • dollar bill money macro

    Per diems driving special session costs

    Lawmakers who represent areas outside Juneau receive $295 for each day of the special session. Juneau lawmakers receive $221.25 per day.
  • Caroline Hoover proudly pins an Alaska Territorial Guard medal on the front of her father's parka during an official discharge ceremony held Oct. 17 in Kipnuk, Alaska. David Martin is one of three surviving members of the Alaska Territorial Guard's Kipnuk unit. A total of 59 residents of Kipnuk, who volunteered to defend Alaska in the event of a Japanese invasion during World War II, were recognized during the ceremony. Kipnuk residents who served with the Alaska Territorial Guard from 1942-1947 were members of a U.S. Army component organized in response to attacks by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. (Photo by Jerry Walton, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs cultural resource manager and native liaison/public domain/Wikimedia Commons)

    16 Alaska Territorial Guard vets to be honored in Anchorage

    Sixteen veterans of the Alaska Territorial Guard will be honored at a discharge ceremony today. Four of them are from Western Alaska.
  • Don Andrew Roguska looks out from an upstairs window of an historic Juneau house he bought in 2016 to restore. Zoning regulations have prevented him from rebuilding in the same style. (Photo by Jacob Resneck/KTOO)

    Juneau mulls relaxing zoning rules for historic houses

    The historic houses in Juneau and Douglas were predominately built by miners and fishermen long before today's zoning was put into place. That's prevented homeowners from restoring or rebuilding homes in these neighborhoods without running into conflict with the city's zoning laws -- a temporary fix may be on the way.
  • Young joins Afghanistan war skeptics in Congress

    Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young wants to know why Americans are still fighting in Afghanistan. He has co-sponsored a bill that would end funding for the war in a year, unless the president and Congress affirm the need for it.
X