In Brief

Panel advances national checks

 for pot business applicants

JUNEAU — A state Senate committee has advanced legislation that would allow regulators of Alaska’s up-and-coming legal marijuana industry to obtain national criminal history checks on those applying for marijuana business licenses.

This came the same day that prospective business owners could begin applying for licenses. The fix was sought by the Marijuana Control Board.

A law passed last year prohibited the issuance of licenses to individuals who have had felony convictions within five years of their application or are on probation or parole for that felony. The Department of Law said specific authority was needed in state law to require fingerprinting and the use of FBI records for national checks.

The bill that advanced Wednesday also would let established villages decide whether they want to approve marijuana establishments within their borders.


Lawmaker’s widow plans to seek his seat in Alaska Legislature

JUNEAU — The state Democratic party says 11 people have applied to fill the vacancy left when Anchorage Rep. Max Gruenberg died earlier this month.

While the party hasn’t identified the applicants, Gruenberg’s widow, Kayla Epstein, says she is among them. Epstein says Gruenberg has several bills pending that are close to her heart and she wants to see them through. At this point, she says she would seek re-election if appointed.

Democrats plan to interview the candidates before sending the names of three finalists to Gov. Bill Walker, who must appoint a qualified replacement within 30 days of a legislative vacancy.

The law states the appointee shall be a member of the same political party as the predecessor, and in this case, would be subject to confirmation by House Democrats.

—The Associated Press