Senator Berta Gardner

April 21, 2014

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Serving Midtown, Spenard, and UMed

State Capitol Bldg. Rm 417
Juneau, AK 99801
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Didn’t Voters Approve
a 90 Day Session?

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Senators Gardner and French converse on the Senate Floor.
Senators Gardner and French converse on the Senate Floor.

         We didn’t quite get to the end of our work despite going well into predawn hours, which means we are extending passed the voter approved 90 day session. I believe this is due to a lack of leadership in both houses. Leadership knew how to get into the woods but seem to have lost the map sometime during the night.

         House Bill 75 does two things: It removes the requirement that non-profit organizations who receive PFD contributions through the “Pick. Click. Give.” program provide an audit from an independent certified public accountant. It also requires each campus of the University of Alaska to apply to be included on the contribution list. This passed the Senate 20 to 0.

         House Bill 121 relaxes restrictions on the Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agricultural Bank (CFAB) by the legislature when it established the bank. The bank is now member-owned but still governed by statute mainly because it is authorized to make loans using limited entry fishing permits as collateral.  HB 121 lifts the $500,000-$1 million loan limit, eliminates the Alaska residency requirement for borrowers, and makes certain  changes related to the board of director and lobbying. This passed 17 to 3. I was a no vote because of the removal of residency requirements.  It is one more little step which promotes outside ownership of our fisheries.

         House Bill 140 requires that regulation notices include information about the costs non-state agencies (individuals, municipalities, private entities, etc.), and requires that if a regulation is being adopted due to federal laws or decisions, then that would be stated in notice of regulatory changes. This bill passed 16 to 4.  I voted no because I think the information is already available, no problem has been identified and the bill has a cost of almost half a million dollars.

         House Bill 141 creates a deadline for healthcare providers to bill employers for medical treatment under workers’ compensation, and a 60-day deadline for providers to appeal.  It also limits the amount that out-of-state healthcare providers can charge for treatment under workers’ compensation. This passed the Senate 20 to 0.

         House Bill 206 amends the statute clarify that motor vehicle service contracts are not insurance.  This passed the Senate 20 to 0.

         House Bill 263 extends the Senior Benefits Payment Program, ancestor of the Longevity Bonus program, set to expire  June 30, 2015, to June 30, 2021. This passed the Senate 20 to 0.  

         Hopefully we’ll have better sense of direction tomorrow. Regardless, we cannot rush blindly in any direction. The body has the experience and the smarts; we just need to use our compass.

         I’m Berta and I’m still listening,

         If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office

signed: Berta

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