The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

 
 

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There were still happy faces to be found under the gray skies during Saturday’s city sponsored kite festival.

Draft voting districts unveiled

(AP) The Alaska Redistricting Board says it will unveiled seven drafts of possible configurations of legislative districts plus five more submitted by other groups or individuals.

The draft plans were presented at a public hearing that Friday in Anchorage.

The five-member board, dominated by four Republicans, produced new districts in 2012.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that the Alaska Supreme Court ruled they were unconstitutional because the board took the U.S. Voting Rights Act into consideration ahead of the Alaska Constitution.

Board attorney Michael White says the process this year will be simpler after a U.S. Supreme Court decision this week that eliminated a provision of the federal Voting Rights Act.

New laws went into effect Monday

(AP) This part of summer is a time for patriotism. It's also the time new state laws go into effect across the nation.

Fiscal years begin July 1 on most financial calendars, and a slew of state government spending regulations kick in each year on that date. Policy laws also hit the books in a wave, though states often mark their independence by enacting such legislation on their own time.

Among the laws set to take effect this year around the U.S. are new abortion limits, gun laws and technology rules. And one state, Wyoming, will start setting up a lottery Monday, leaving only a handful of states without a jackpot drawing.

Alaska's three-month legislative session was dominated this year by debate over rolling back the state's oil taxes as a way to increase production. The bill, recently signed into law, is now the subject of a repeal effort. Other bills were less controversial, including those that take effect July 1.

So as you get ready for Fourth of July gatherings and family time, consider this roundup of what's happening in Alaska:

SEX TRAFFICKING: SB22, from Gov. Sean Parnell, is an omnibus crime bill that deals with things like trafficking, conduct of probation officers and domestic violence. It eliminates statutes of limitations to prosecute child pornography, human trafficking and sex trafficking cases. It allows judges to require that the movements of individuals charged with or convicted of domestic violence be tracked using GPS or other technology. It also bars probation and parole officers from having sex with those on probation.

AGENCY AUDITS: HB30, from House Speaker Mike Chenault, requires performance reviews of state agencies. The intent is to get a more in-depth look at the workings of state agencies than legislators can typically do during a 90-day session. Agencies are to be audited one at a time, beginning in 2014 with the Department of Correction, and audited every 10 years.

MOBILE INSURANCE: HB146, from Rep. Pete Higgins, allows drivers to provide their proof of motor vehicle insurance on electronic devices, like smartphones.

Provisions within several other bills, including state spending bills, also took effect Monday.

Sen. Begich visiting Glennallen

U.S. Senator Mark Begich released his schedule for the week of July 4. In addition to visiting Anchorage and Fairbanks, Begich also visit Tazlina and Glennallen according to his press secretary

On Friday, July 6, Begich will be on hand at the Tazlina Tribal Hall of the official “Presentation of Congressional Record Honoring Katie John.”

Valdez Star photo

Valdez mayor Dave Cobb and city clerk Sheri Pierce had a look at possible new voting districts that Valdez might be aligned with when the state’s redistricting board again takes up new voting districts mandated by the 2010 US Census. The proposed boundaries are confusing according to city officials.

The event will take place at 12:30 p.m. Later, he will visit Glennallen for a 2 p.m. tour of the Copper River Native Association Clinic at the town’s Robert Marshall Building.

Parnell picnic dates set

(AP) The dates have been set for this year's Governor's Family picnics.

The first picnic will be held July 19 in Palmer, at the Alaska State Fairgrounds. Additional picnics are planned for Anchorage on July 20, Fairbanks on July 21, Juneau on July 23 and Homer on July 25.

Gov. Sean Parnell's office says the annual picnics have been held for more than a decade and are put on with donations and volunteer help. The picnics feature the governor and first lady helping serve up the food.

Traditionally the governor hosts picnics in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Parnell last year asked other communities to submit applications on how they would plan and host a picnic. Homer won that opportunity this year.

 

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