- On April 18th, state reps voted 38-0 to establish February 2nd as Marmot Day.
- On April 6th, state reps voted 31-6 to designate the Alaska Malamute as the official state dog.
- In keeping with the animals theme, the House passed HB 6, which expands the definition of animal cruelty laws to include bestiality.
- Someone actually noticed that the Board of Fish was leaning even more heavily towards commercial interests. Palin's nominee, Brent Johnson, was rejected 42-16 in a joint session.
- In a move vaguely reminiscent of the evolution of Alaskan marijuana laws, the Senate passed a bill outlawing the installation of tinted windows in cars and trucks. Note: it was already illegal to drive with them.
- Minimum wage in Alaska will rise, eventually, to $7.75 an hour and remain at least 50 cents above the federal minimum.
- It's been a long, difficult road for those who wish to end the scourge of Daylight Savings Time. As FBH readers themselves may know from personal experience, that one hour change twice a year is just hell. When it's been below minus 40 for over a week, and dark, and I truly dread going outside for more firewood, sometimes I remind myself, "Hey, at least tomorrow we don't have to spring ahead an hour." That does offer me some comfort. This legislative effort has stalled numerous times since 1999, but made it through the House as HB19 in 2009. As a public service, we have reprinted the following statement made by one legislator who introduced such a bill in 2002, offered by the bill's author, from a Juneau Empire story:
"It's just another one of those little hassles in life that you don't need," said Rep. Ken Lancaster, a Soldotna Republican and author of House Bill 409 to end daylight-saving time in Alaska. "Twice a year everybody is late for work or forgets to set their clocks," he said. "This year it's on a Sunday, so everybody is going to be late for church."The list could go on and on.
Actually, daylight-saving time always begins on the first Sunday in April and continues until the last Sunday in October, when clocks are set back to standard time. But the adjustment can be confusing to anyone.
Clearly, the 90 day session is working out for everyone involved. Sarah Palin has 30 less days she needs to spend working on state business, freeing her up to lend herself to various causes near and dear to Alaskans: the outcome of the Texas gubernatorial race, the outcome of the gubernatorial race in Georgia and uh.... a Right to Life event in Indiana. She still had plenty of time to make some thoughtful, considered appointments to state positions: Wayne Anthony Ross, Brent Johnson, Tim Grussendorf, Joe Nelson, Alan Wilson. And hey, let's not forget -- she had time to visit
Never one to get out of a session without getting at least one stupid, ill-informed, offensive remark into the press, Mike Kelly, Mr. Representing My Neck of the Woods Thanks to 5 Stupid Voters, did not disappoint, even though he had 30 less days in which to speak in public on our behalf. Mr. Kelly had what I will from now on refer to his 'Let them cut wood" moment. Blue Oasis picked up on this one from the ADN, and it is just too awesome not to quote:
Saturday began with a confrontation in the House Finance Committee about what to do in regard to high energy costs in rural Alaska. The Legislature is poised to appropriate $9 million statewide for low-income heating assistance programs to assist. But Fairbanks Rep. Kelly said he thought it was supposed to be a one-time appropriation last year, and state revenues have dropped.
He said there are other programs for people who are needy and "not for any layabouts."
"I'd rather tell the guy, go out there and cut your own wood or do something for yourself. ... I don't know how many of the 200-plus villages have a wood supply within a rock toss, but there's a lot of them because I've been to a lot of them," he said.
Rep. Woodie Salmon, a Democrat from the village of Chalkyitsik, angrily responded that there have been millions of dollars in state subsidies for urban energy needs.
"They spent millions and millions of dollars on a coal plant, transmission lines, then they retire off the system, and then they don't help the rural areas," he said.
Kelly is the retired president of Golden Valley Electric Association in Fairbanks.