JUNEAU — Everything is on the table for budget cuts, members of the Senate majority caucus said Jan. 20, but the lawmakers will avoid introducing new taxes or encroaching on Alaskans’ Permanent Fund Dividends. On the first day of the 29th Legislature, Sens. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage; Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks; John Coghill, R-Fairbanks; Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River; Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla; and Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, announced the Republican-led majority’s priorities, including their opinions on the state of Alaska’s budget.
The transformation of the Interior Energy Project has begun. This time, a Cook Inlet gas source is a real possibility.
Bering Sea halibut bycatch reforms are still in the works, but the U.S. Department of Commerce has recommended a stopgap measure on behalf of the small boat fishermen most injured by sinking allocations. The U.S. Department of Commerce has responded to the letter sent Dec. 18, 2014, by the six Alaskan members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council asking for an emergency 33 percent reduction in Bering Sea halibut bycatch limits.
Roland Maw, executive director of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, has taken one step back and two steps forward since his failed application for Alaska commissioner of Fish and Game, and now joins the very people who denied him an interview for the job. Gov. Bill Walker named Maw to the Alaska Board of Fisheries on Jan 20, replacing Chairman Karl Johnstone, who resigned following public and gubernatorial scrutiny of the board’s actions at the commissioner nominee selection meeting on Jan. 14. Maw’s place on the board will be effective Jan. 28 following a Jan. 21-27 board meeting in Wrangell.