The power of public comment took down an effort to set up a gun club in a valley near Seldovia.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly considered a resolution May 17 to reclassify a parcel of land near the remote community of Seldovia on the southern Kenai Peninsula as recreational. The Seldovia Sportsmen’s Club, a recreational club, requested the borough reclassify the land so the club could apply to lease it for the purpose of setting up a shooting range.
This Legislature’s fourth special session began midday Monday when legislators were given bills to address two of Gov. Bill Walker’s 10 original agenda items.
Those bills were an omnibus tax bill and a seemingly noncontroversial bill providing health insurance to families of emergency responders killed in the line of duty.
It took two special sessions in 2015 to pass the budget, and a third special session was held last fall to buy out TransCanada’s share in the Alaska LNG Project.
Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s released a statement on May 19 warning the Legislature once again that a failure to address the $4 billion budget gap may further lower Alaska’s credit rating.
The Legislature adjourned on May 18 at the end of an extended, 121-day session without passing a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, or any of several fiscal changes concerning the Permanent Fund or oil and gas tax credits.
JUNEAU — The prospect of a special session looms as Alaska lawmakers hit their fourth month in regular session without agreement on a plan for pulling the state out of a massive budget deficit.
Lawmakers worked past the voter-approved 90-day session limit in April after failing to come to terms on changes to Alaska’s oil and gas tax credit system. The state constitution allows for 121-day regular sessions, a mark lawmakers reached Wednesday.
Add promotional hats, water bottles, visors and other promotional items to the list of ways Alaska hopes to balance its budget without hiking taxes too high.
The Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation got a green light from the Legislature to sell parks-themed merchandise for a profit.
As long as Gov. Bill Walker signs the bill, SB 101, the division can begin ordering merchandise and pricing it to offset the division’s cost of operating.
The Alaska marijuana industry first business licenses will be issued in June, and the most crucial kind have the lowest number of applications.
Testing facilities — one of the four commercial cannabis licenses created under legalization — present a possible industry bottleneck. All cannabis products sold in Alaska must undergo tests in state-licensed labs.
HOUSTON — The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. dropped by nine this week to 406, another all-time low amid depressed energy prices.
A year ago, 888 rigs were active.
Alaska’s rig count was unchanged this week, but rigs are down to five compared to 10 in the same week a year ago.
Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday 328 rigs sought oil and 86 explored for natural gas. One was listed as miscellaneous.
The round tables were fringed with people chatting leisurely and exchanging bits of news, like they were on lunch break. A few feet away, two young men ignored the conversation and clicked away on desktop computers. Yet another group stood on the edges of the room, pacing and waiting, their heads snapping up when the fronts doors opened.
All heads turned as soon as Rachel O’Brien called for session participants, and all rose, shuffling slowly toward the back room of the Peninsula Job Center in unison. As soon as the door closed, the room fell silent.
JUNEAU — After a month of debate, the Alaska House of Representatives has approved legislation that cuts the annual state subsidy for the oil and gas industry.
In a 25-12 vote, the House approved a modified version of House Bill 247, proposed by a pair of Republicans: Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, and Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer. With an amendment, the pair tossed out a version proposed by the House Rules Committee and substituted their own.
PALMER — The state is seeking out a new owner for the only federally approved slaughterhouse in southcentral Alaska, as funding for the facility could run out this year due to legislative budget cuts.
The state Board of Agriculture and Conservation has issued a request for proposals to lease and operate the state-funded Mt. McKinley Meat and Sausage Plant in Palmer. The proposed lease arrangement also includes an option to purchase the facility, The Alaska Public Radio Network reports.
Governance at Soldotna’s Central Peninsula Hospital will go directly to the hospital’s operating board and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.
Facing decreased revenue from the state, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has proposed merging the Capital Projects Department with its Purchasing and Contracting Department.
The Capital Projects Department handles capital improvement projects in the borough, such as roofing a school or repairing a water-damaged baseball field. Seven permanent staff and some temporary positions for individual projects make up the department.
Don Stead will realize his dream of owning a brewery with his wife Sherry when Grace Ridge Brewing opens up for business for the first time this Friday. Local artist Jen Depesa’s artwork will be displayed in the brewery, with a second-Friday show on May 13 at 6 p.m.
Over the Shorebird weekend — today through Sunday — the brewery will open from noon to 8 p.m.
Issues discussed in Homer Electric Association’s annual members meeting, held May 4 at Kenai Central High School, include what the electric cooperative is doing to reduce the electric bills of its members, a proposal to withdraw from regulation by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska — a state utilities oversight agency — and a possible settlement of HEA’s dispute with six other utilities over the cost of transmitting electricity over HEA’s powerlines.
Power costs and gas supply
The only company to drill an exploratory oil well in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea following a 2008 federal lease sale confirmed May 10 it has relinquished nearly all of its leases.
Royal Dutch Shell PLC formally relinquished all but one of its leases in the waters off Alaska’s northwest coast, spokesman Curtis Smith said.
No bids for Cook Inlet
oil and gas leases
No bids were opened for state oil and gas leases in Cook Inlet as previously scheduled Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday, the state Department of Natural Resources announced it received no bids for any acreage and cited limited leases available and current depressed prices as the reason.
The state Division of Oil and Gas wants significantly more information from Prudhoe Bay field operator BP and its fellow working owners on how a scaled-back work plan for this year could impact prospects for a gasline down the road.
Oil and Gas Director Corri Feige wrote a letter to senior BP Alaska officials April 11 asking more than a dozen technical questions related to a major gas sales project including drilling plans, management of carbon dioxide pulled from Prudhoe natural gas, gas balancing agreements and efforts to market the gas.
JUNEAU — One of the two companies offering individual health insurance policies for Alaskans announced Monday that it will not be participating in that market next year. The announcement by Moda Health would leave Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield as the only company providing individual health insurance policies in the state as of Jan. 1.
It has been three weeks since legislation to scale back Alaska’s oil and gas tax credit program took a big step backwards to the House Rules Committee.
In the meantime Rules chair Rep. Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, has put forth two very similar versions of House Bill 247 that would all but eliminate the state’s refundable credit program.
The Marijuana Control Board enacted a policy decision April 27 that will hurry along the licensing process that has been slowed since the state started taking applications Feb. 24.
The board voted 4-1 to allow its Executive Director Cynthia Franklin to declare license applications complete before state and federal fingerprint background checks are completed.
Only Loren Jones opposed the policy decision of the five-member board.