After sitting in limbo for nearly a year, a controversial permitting bill is on the move again. House Bill 77 has been sent back to the Senate Resources Committee, and it’s scheduled for hearings on Monday and Wednesday.
Gov. Sean Parnell introduced last session, and he pitched it as a way of reducing the permitting backlog. But tribal organizations, fishing groups, and environmental outfits came out strongly against it. They argued it would limit public involvement in land management decisions and give the natural resources commissioner blanket authority to issue general permits. The governor has expressed willingness to remove some of the more contentious provisions to allow the bill to advance.
The bill has already passed the House, and but was unable to get enough votes in the Senate in its current form.
- Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she needs time to review a health care bill drafted by fellow Republicans to understand its effects.
- Advocacy group Alaska Trails sent a letter to let Gov. Bill Walker know that transportation funds are at risk. Alaska returned $2.6 million to the U.S. Department of Transportation last September.
- The Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association has been trying to move a majority of its net pens in the Tutka Bay Lagoon to the head of Tutka Bay for about four years. The hotly debated issue has led to packed community meetings and questions about the impact of raising fish in the area.
- A lot of science involves happy accidents. A retired scientist from Oregon stepped off the ferry in Sitka late last month, and on a hunch decided to look around the woods for an old friend.