AKLEG Recap, Day 9: Legislature expands food donations with first bill to pass this session

(Photo illustration by U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Things are getting busy in the Alaska Legislature. The Legislature passed its first bill of 2018 when the Senate voted on a bill to expand food donations, and the Senate’s smoke-free workplace bill could be headed to the House floor. Today’s schedule is even busier with five meetings scheduled for noon. Here’s what happened and what’s in store.

Just 81 days (just about enough time for that ultra-pasteurized milk to start going bad) to go.

Food bill

Healy Republican Rep. David Talerico’s House Bill 186 is the first piece of legislation to pass both chambers of the Legislature in 2018. The legislation would make it easier for restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and other food-related businesses to donate leftover food, including food that’s past its sell-by date (which isn’t the same as going bad) to charitable groups. It does so by lifting the liability from the donators. The bill passed the Senate 18-0 without any changes from the version that passed the House 39-0 so it’s now headed to Gov. Bill Walker for a signature.

Also, according to the sponsor statement, the bill won’t only help feed the hungry, it “will also reduce the amount of food put into our landfills which smells, attracts animals, birds and unnecessarily takes up space.”


The House has a new member John Lincoln, who’s the NANA Regional Corporation vice president of lands, bringing an end to a particularly messy appointment process. Lincoln’s job experience will certainly be an interesting addition to the Alaska Legislature. According to the NANA website, Lincoln “is responsible for managing lands owned by NANA, working to protect shareholder subsistence rights and resources, and developing and implementing land use programs that are beneficial to the region and the Corporation.”

The tension between Alaska Native land rights and outdoor users’ access has been long-simmering issue that rose to some attention last year with the confirmation of Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. Republican Senators seemed particularly bothered during the confirmation process by Lindemuth’s decision to settle a land access issue with an Alaska Native corporation (which was ultimately rejected by the Alaska Native corporation and sent to the courts). Lincoln, at the very least, should bring a new and experienced perspective to the conversation.

Smoking bill

The smoke-free workplace bill emerged from the House Judiciary Committee on a 5-2 vote during Wednesday’s hearing, but it wasn’t without a fight. Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, was particularly bothered by the administration’s position that the legislation will have no cost to implement (it has some cost, but those costs are being borne by anti-smoking groups). LeDoux wanted to add an indeterminate fiscal note, something that could potentially slow down the legislation, but that failed on a 5N-2Y vote.

The passage of the bill from committee would normally mean it’s just a matter of time before the legislation is calendered for a vote, but the problem is LeDoux is responsible for that calendaring as the chair of the House Rules Committee. She hasn’t yet commented on her plans for the legislation. If she does refuse to take action on it, the House could pull the bill from her committee (20 members have already co-sponsored the bill), but it would be a pretty significant snub to roll a key member of House leadership.

Patriots Day

Candidate for lieutenant governor Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, has introduced legislation that would officially designate Sept. 11 as “Patriot Day” in Alaska in Senate Bill 152. The legislation would set straight what was one of 2017’s fakest gubernatorial scandals drummed up by Republican Party’s mouthpiece, which accused Gov. Bill Walker of committing grave unpatriotic sin of cutting the “Patriot” out of “Patriot Day” when he issued a declaration for “September 11 Commemoration Day.” We pointed out that Walker’s use of “September 11 Commemoration Day” was the same used by Republican governors Sean Parnell and Sarah Palin before him.  http://midnightsunak.com/2017/09/11/walker-really-cut-patriot-patriot-day/

What we’re reading

  • The responsive reporting Alaska media to Tuesday morning’s earthquake that triggered tsunami warnings for Kodiak, Southcentral and Juneau (to name just a few of the affected communities) was an excellent display of journalism by everyone involved. Our favorite story out of the bunch was Anchorage Daily News reporter Tegan Hanlon’s profile on Larry Pestrikoff, a 48-year-old janitor who charmingly live streamed the tsunami warning on Facebook Live. Read: How waiting for a tsunami that didn’t come turned a small-town Alaska man into an internet hero via Anchorage Daily News.
  • The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board may have killed the fun with its vote to outright ban the serving of cocktails at distilleries, but the Marijuana Control Board is getting more industry-friendly. That’s because the panel recently appointed Bethel City Councilor Mark Springer, one of the public members, as chair, replacing Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mlynarik who resigned after Trump decided to get hard-line on pot. Mlynarik was described as “prohibitionist” by some in the industry and even carried a petition to ban marijuana locally. Read: Alaska marijuana board gets more industry-friendly chair by KTOO.
  • 22 or maybe 23 cars piled up on an icy Fairbanks expressway on Tuesday. The pictures are pretty amazing. Read: Chain-reaction vehicle pileup hits Fairbanks expressway via Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

What’s in store for Day 10

  • 8 a.m. House Community and Regional Affairs – House Bill 267,allows municipalities to access certain state hunting and sport fishing records by Rep. Edgmon, public testimony.
  • 9 a.m. House Finance – House Bill 287, education and student transportation budget by Rep. Seaton, public testimony; House Bill 213 public school trust fund by Rep. Parish, public testimony.
  • 9 a.m. Senate Finance/Resources – Update on the Alaska LNG project by the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation.
  • 10 a.m. HFin Subcommittee on Fish and Game – Department overview.
  • 11 a.m. House Fisheries – HB 188 creation of regional fisheries trusts by Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins.
  • 12 p.m. HFin Subcommittee Commerce – Statutory obligations, subcommittee process review.
  • 12 p.m. House Education/Labor and Commerce – Presentation on workforce readiness.
  • 12 p.m. House Legislative Council – Sexual and other workplace harassment subcommittee review of draft policy
  • 12 p.m. Lunch and Learn – Update on the Alaska LNG project by the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation.
  • 12 p.m. HFin Subcommittee on Military and Veterans’ Affairs – Alaska Aerospace Corporation
  • 1:30 p.m. House Finance – HB 286, the operating budget; HB 285, mental health budget.
  • 1:30 p.m. House Military and Veterans’ Affairs – HJR 17, Hmong veterans military burial rights by Rep. Tarr, public testimony; House Bill 178 naming portions of state roads in honor of veterans by Rep. Eastman.
  • 1:30 p.m. Senate Labor and Commerce – How do we best train Alaskans for jobs?
  • 3 p.m. – House State Affairs – Public testimony on House Bill 152 militias by House State Affairs.
  • 3:30 p.m. Senate Community and Regional Affairs – Senate Bill 125 Extend bond authority for the Interior Energy Project, by Sen. Kelly.
  • 3:30 p.m. Senate Education Committee – Public testimony on Senate Bill 131, education funding by Sen. Stevens.
  • 3:45 p.m. HFin Subcommittee on Health and Social Services – Department overview.
  • 5:30 p.m. HFin Subcommittee on Public Safety – Department overview.
  • 5:30 p.m. HFin Subcommittee on Revenue – ARM Board, Treasury, Municipal bond bank.

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