With the legislative session getting ever closer, lawmakers have released another batch of bills for consideration.
The second round of early bills is smaller than the one released last week, with fewer than 20 bills filed. There don’t seem to be any big-money bills or sweeping reforms among them. Most instead deal with specific situations.
In the House, a few bills concern health care, lawsuits, and the intersection of the two. One bipartisan piece of legislation would create a directory of living wills. Another bill would make it so that a health-care provider’s apology couldn’t be admissible evidence in a malpractice case. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a bill that would give parents the right to sue if someone’s at fault for the death of an unborn child. That includes language excepting abortions and deaths caused in the course of standard medical care.
There is also a bill in the House to limit what sort of data could be collected on students. A different item would create a simple taxpayer receipt of what the state spends its money on, to be issued when Permanent Fund dividend checks are sent out. Rounding that all out is legislation to ban genetically engineered crops in the state, to license private investigators, and to regulate drones.
Only two bills were introduced in the Senate. One would allow officers to leave parking tickets on windshields, a practice the Legislature unintentionally banned in 2010. The other would reject pay raises for the governor and his commissioners.
- The Juneau Assembly will be asked next week to approve $3.06 million in pay increases for employees at Bartlett Regional Hospital. That's after the city-owned hospital's board of directors approved a tentative agreement with its unionized workforce after more than a year of negotiations that ended with the help of federal mediators.
- Scientists recently announced they had found an Asian tapeworm species in pink salmon caught off the coast of the Kenai Peninsula. In a recent study, a team of scientists identified a Japanese broad tapeworm larva in pink salmon caught in Resurrection Creek near Hope. The study appears in the February issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
- An overdue snowmachiner, who was traveling to Fairbanks from Shungnak, by way of Huslia, has been found dead near Selawik Hot Springs. Travis Loughridge, 27, left Shungnak about noon Saturday and was expected to arrive in Fairbanks by Monday evening.
- Juneau's state legislative delegation told a half-dozen members of the Juneau Assembly on Thursday morning that the state's budget outlook isn't rosy. Democratic Sen. Dennis Egan said there are real risks to middle-class public sector jobs under threat by budget cuts.