News Briefs – Stories from Valdez and Alaska
Bishop caves on vote for ACES reform
Photo courtesy Caitlin Connell
Mattison Ace (above) and her academic partner, Rachel Ezell, set a new school record at Gilson Middle School last month. The duo built a four inch by four inch tower using only toothpicks and glue as part of a history lesson in Robert Huston’s class on the Industrial Revolution. The duo’s tower held 791 pounds of weight and set a new school record.
(AP) Sen. Click Bishop, District C, voted in favor of SB21 last Wednesday, giving backers of the bill its needed majority vote to pass in the State Senate.
Supporters say SB21 will lead to new investment and production. Critics call it a giveaway.
A new fiscal note shows the latest version of the proposed oil tax overhaul could cost Alaska between $4.5 billion and $5.8 billion through 2019. That's based on a forecast for oil prices and production calling for continued decline during that period and prices between $109-$118 a barrel.
The note is higher than those that accompanied versions of the bill proposed by the governor and Senate Resources.
The bill, as it passed the Senate, would, among other things, set the base tax rate at 35 percent and provide a $5 allowance for each taxable barrel of oil produced. It also includes a tax break for oil from new fields and new oil from legacy fields.
Jacob Jensen heading to Bethel
Jacob Jensen, the outgoing superintendent of Valdez City Schools, is heading to Bethel after securing the position of superintendent for the Lower Kuskokwim School District.
Jensen’s contract with Valdez City Schools expires June 30. Jensen had notified the board of education for Valdez City Schools earlier this year that he would not be seek a renewal of his three-year contract, worth $130,000 yearly.
Tailgate Alaska opens Friday
Organizers of the 2013 Flow Tailgate Alaska have been working behind the scenes in Valdez in recent weeks, preparing for its sixth-year on Thompson Pass. The week-long event co-mingles recreational riders, skiers, professional athletes and industry types to what many claim are the world’s best mountains and deepest snow.
Event founder Mark Sullivan said tickets will be limited to 150 in 2013.
Credit scores and insurance
(AP) A bill that would allow insurance companies to consider a person's credit score when renewing a policy advanced from committee a week ago Thursday.
The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee, which sponsored SB55, was the only committee of referral for the measure on the Senate side.
Currently, insurers can consider credit history when initially issuing an auto, renter's or homeowner's insurance policy. According to the sponsor statement, if consumers want their credit history used as part of a renewal, they must request that.
Forty-seven other states allows insurance companies to look at credit history when reviewing a new policy application, but Alaska is the only one that doesn't allow companies to consider that information when a policy is renewed, according to Kenton Brine, assistant vice president and Northwest regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
A number of insurance companies have backed the bill. They believe credit scores are an accurate predictor of risk and say the current law results in higher premium rates and market disruptions, with consumers forced to switch carriers for rates that better reflect their risk.
Sen. Click Bishop
The director of the Alaska Division of Insurance, Bret Kolb, testified in support of the measure Thursday.
``I believe this will be good for Alaska,'' Kolb said. ``It will offer opportunities for insurance companies to be more competitive in their pricing.''
The bill's opponents are concerned the proposal could lead to higher rates for Alaskans and higher premiums for lower-income families, based on credit score.
The specifics behind the score itself - and how it's calculated - also have caused concern.
Daniel Lynch of Soldotna, who told the committee he was calling in to represent ``common sense’’ said insurance should be connected to the risks associated with a home, car or driver, not credit score.