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The Latest: Alaska legislature OKs gas line board appointees

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on issues the Alaska legislature is handling during its final days of session (all times local):

3:50 p.m.

The Alaska Legislature has confirmed Gov. Bill Walker’s three appointees to a board involved in advancing a major gas project in the state.

Lawmakers narrowly confirmed the appointment of former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. board. The vote was 31-27. They approved board members Dave Cruz and Joey Merrick II without debate.

Wide-ranging opposition to Hopkins included criticism that he lacks experience needed to be effective on the board and his one-time affiliation with the Alaska Gasline Port Authority, a municipal effort to pursue a gas project that Walker was once affiliated with. Sen. Lesil McGuire wasn’t happy that Walker had cleared the board of people she believed to be highly qualified.

Supporters praised Hopkins as well qualified.


3:40 p.m.

Tension rose in the Alaska Legislature as lawmakers debated confirming Gov. Bill Walker’s appointees to the state’s Board of Game.

One, former hunting guide Guy Trimmingham, did not make it through process. Legislators voted 46-12 not to support him. Detractors highlighted his support of non-consumptive uses of game— like wildlife photography— as their reason for voting to keep him off of the board.

Sen. Lesil McGuire says the board is designed to regulate sustainable consumption of wildlife resources and needs to be staffed with people who promote harvest of the state’s resources.

The other appointee, wilderness trapper and guide Nathan Turner, has been on the board since 2010. Opponents of his nomination say the board is guide-heavy and they want a mix of guide and non-guide hunters and trappers.

Turner was confirmed 45-13.

12:45 p.m.

The Alaska Legislature has confirmed Gov. Bill Walker’s pick to lead the Department of Corrections.

Dean Williams faced criticism from a correctional officers’ union for a department review that Williams helped conduct that found such things as outdated policies and cases of lax or informal consequences for apparent employee misconduct. The Alaska Correctional Officers Association, in a rebuttal to the review, stated that Williams’ review contained inaccuracies and omissions.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski contrasted versions of the review with the officers’ side in laying out opposition to Williams. Sen. Charlie Huggins says Williams was set up for failure by being appointed to the post after doing the review.

But several legislators during a lengthy floor debate praised Williams as a man of integrity and an agent of change.

The vote was 49-9.


9:40 a.m.

Three tax proposals have been rolled into one bill being considered by a state House committee.

A draft rewrite of Gov. Bill Walker’s motor fuels tax bill, rolled out by the House Finance Committee, also adds in proposed increases in mining and fisheries taxes. Walker has proposed increases for all three.

Committee co-chair Steve Thompson says the three seemed to fit together.

The committee also has been holding hearings on Walker’s proposal to reinstitute a personal state income tax in the waning days of this legislative session.

Thompson says the income tax bill could get to the House floor but couldn’t say whether it would have the votes to pass. Leaders in the Senate have shown little interest so far in an income tax.


8:40 a.m.

The Alaska Legislature plans to meet in joint session to consider for confirmation Gov. Bill Walker’s appointees to boards and commissions and his pick for commissioner of the Department of Corrections.

The session is scheduled for Friday.

Lawmakers hoped to see nominees for an Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission spot and Natural Resources commissioner. Walker hasn’t filled those yet.

Walker’s choice for Corrections commissioner, Dean Williams, has faced criticism from a correctional officers’ union over a department review he helped conduct that found outdated policies, cases of lax or informal consequences for apparent employee misconduct and mistrust between corrections staff and management. In a rebuttal to the review, the Alaska Correctional Officers Association said Williams’ review contained inaccuracies and omissions. Williams has said he stands behind the review.

Related: Alaska House minority sees tax credit bill as key to fiscal plan

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