No legislative action on special sessions seventh day

first_imgThere was no legislative action on the seventh day of the special session. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO and Alaska Public Media)There were no committee meetings and only technical floor sessions in the Capitol on Wednesday, the seventh day of the Alaska Legislature’s 30-day special session.Listen nowThere has been no sign of progress in resolving the state’s budget crisis. House Speaker Bryce Edgmon put out a statement Tuesday saying that House members could go home for the Memorial Day holiday. He called on the Senate to act on a new revenue measure to use as a basis for negotiations. He also said he wants the Senate to appoint members to a committee to work out differences between the two chambers over changes to oil and gas taxes and tax credits.Leaders of the two chambers are seeking to set the terms of the negotiations. Edgmon wants revenue measures to be a part of a compromise, while Senate President Pete Kelly has said his caucus doesn’t want a broad-based tax. It’s not clear at this point what will cause either side to budge.There has been some progress on the only bill in the special session that’s not related to the budget. The Senate Finance Committee met Tuesday to hear testimony on Senate Bill 79, which is intended to reduce overdose deaths from prescription opioids. Most professional groups appear to support the bill, but some doctors and pharmacists would like to see the Senate make changes to the bill. The House passed its version, House Bill 159, on Monday. The State Medical Board said one of the bill’s main provisions – which limits most opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply – is too vague.Special sessions typically cost $20,000 to $30,000 each day, according to the Legislative Affairs Agency. Much of that is to cover the living expenses for lawmakers and housing costs for them and their staffs who have to stay in Juneau.Edgmon said House members won’t collect per diems while they’re home, which would lower the cost if they follow through on that.But Alaskans who’d like to see the Legislature fix the state’s budget problem are unlikely to see much action until at least next week.last_img read more

Terror Lake hydroelectric project expansion gets the goahead

first_imgKEA proposed diversion. (Courtesy of KEA)The Kodiak Electric Association received a permit to start its Terror Lake Hydroelectric Project expansion, which would increase the lake’s clean energy production.Listen nowPart of the project includes construction through federal land, which requires a lengthy permitting process with some steps KEA called “duplicative.”It had started on a legislative path to try to speed up that process, but KEA President and CEO Darron Scott said an agreement between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reached the same goal.“We actually a while back started the process with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and they worked together with FERC to kind of come together on some of the process as well, some of the permitting process, to kinda streamline the time on that, and with all that, we recently got our right of way permit with U.S. Fish and Wildlife,” Scott said.According to legislative documents, FERC and Fish & Wildlife entered a Memorandum of Understanding for FERC to take the lead on that permitting process and avoid duplication.KEA plans to divert two streams in the Upper Hidden Basin into the reservoir through a 1.2-mile tunnel under Kodiak Island National Wildlife Refuge land.Scott said the expansion would help meet Kodiak’s growing population and energy needs.“This gives Terror Lake about 25 percent more energy than it had before, so this should provide us [with] several years for load growth as we see electrical loads growing in the town, and it’s renewable and keeps us in that renewable, near-100 percent renewable portfolio that we have, which has been incredibly successful for our town,” Scott said.Scott said KEA will put the project out to bid in the fall and line up contracts in the winter. He said construction should start next summer, and they hope to complete the project in two years, but it could easily take three.last_img read more