Therriault and Wagoner to Attend

Therriault and Wagoner to Attend Legislative Energy Horizon Institute

Juneau – Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, and Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, have been selected among 32 legislators from both the US and Canada to attend a comprehensive series of energy forums, the Legislative Energy Horizon Institute, which will examine the full spectrum of energy generation, infrastructure, regulation and government oversight. The objective of the Institute, which is sponsored in part by the University of Idaho with the support of the US Department of Energy, is to examine the complexity and policy questions surrounding current North American energy generation and distribution issues.

“It is an honor to be selected to attend the Energy Horizon Institute, which has the goal to keep a core group of policy makers up to date on the multitude of energy issues states will be wrestling with over the coming years,” Therriault said. “Energy, whether it is oil and gas, coal, electricity, or biomass, is vital to Alaska’s future, as an exporter of energy as well as for our own consumers. I look forward to putting the knowledge I gain at the Institute to work for Alaskans.”

“Maintaining a continuity of knowledgeable members in a legislative body, who are intimately familiar with the complex details you find with all energy issues, is really crucial to crafting productive, appropriate energy policy,” Wagoner said. “This is important to protecting the interests of Alaskans in these energy debates.”

Attendance at all sessions is mandatory for participants, who will receive a University of Idaho certificate at the conclusion of the program.  The first session of the program will be held in Boise, ID from July 12-16, and will include overviews of electric generation and transmission, natural gas, petroleum and strategic leadership. The program curriculum extends over a period of 18 months and will include seminar training as well as monthly “webinars” and other training materials.

“By accepting the invitation to participate in the Legislative Energy Horizon Institute, I look forward to not only bringing information back to Alaska, but also taking information about Alaska’s role in the global energy markets for members from other jurisdictions to consider” said Therriault.

Legislature Supports NPS Concealed Carry Rule

Legislature Adopts Resolution Supporting NPS Rule to Allow National Park Users to Carry Firearm for Protection

JUNEAU – The Alaska Legislature has overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution to send a message to the Obama administration in support of a National Park Service regulation allowing park users to carry a concealed handgun for personal protection. Senate Joint Resolution 3 passed with just one dissenting vote in the House.

“I thought it was important to express our appreciation to President Bush for adopting the regulation to allow park users to carry the firearms they need for personal protection in national parks,” said Sen. Gene Therriault, prime sponsor of SJR 3.

The regulation was adopted in the waning days of the Bush administration and went into effect in January. It was challenged by gun control and environmental groups, who argued the Bush administration had not conducted a thorough assessment of the environmental impact the regulation could cause. A federal judge in March issued a temporary injunction on the regulation.

Alaska contains more than 75 percent of the land mass of the National Park system, and Alaskans understand how important it is to have personal protection when in the wilderness, Therriault said.

“Whether they are used for bear protection, obtaining food in a survival situation, or signaling for assistance when needed, firearms have been on the hips and in the arms of Alaskans since the frontier was first explored,” Therriault said. “Today, the unbroken wilderness and inherent dangers of the backcountry have been exacerbated with the conditioning of animals to lose their natural tendency of avoiding humans.”

The resolution calls on the Obama administration to support the rule and improve on it. While the concealed carry rule has been temporarily held up by the injunction, park users can carry handguns into the parks, as long as they are unloaded, disassembled, and not immediately accessible in a backpack.

“Carrying around an unassembled, unloaded gun in the Denali backcountry is not going to be of much use if you are suddenly charged by a bear,” Therriault said.

Legislature OKs Exemptions to Open Meetings Act

Legislature Approves Therriault Bill to Exempt Some Service Area Decisions From Open Meetings Act

JUNEAU – By a vote of 35-4, the Alaska House of Representatives on Friday passed SB 48, providing an exemption to the Open Meetings Act for all municipal boards, commissions, and committees meeting solely to administer and manage existing policy. A public meeting which includes discussion and action on policy matters, such as contract negotiations or setting service area tax rates, will still require public notice.

“Senate Bill 48 makes a distinction in the Open Meetings Act between the meetings of boards or committees that are meeting strictly to administer a policy, as opposed to those meetings which discuss and set public policy,” Therriault said. “For example, if we have a road washout or a heavy dump of snow, road commission members need to be able to deal with the problem, that is, to administer a previously decided policy, without being in violation of the Open Meetings Act.”

SB 48 also clarifies an abnormality in state law regarding the definition of a “meeting.” Currently, meeting requirements for advisory bodies are more stringent than those for policy setting bodies. SB 48 places the same open meetings requirements on advisory bodies as are on government agencies authorized to establish public policy.

The bill is awaiting transmittal to the Governor for her signature. It will take effect 90 days after it is signed.

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Legislature Authorizes Veterans’ Cemetery in Interior Alaska

Legislature Passes SB 45, to Authorize
Veterans’ Cemetery in Interior Alaska

JUNEAU – The Alaska House today unanimously approved legislation to authorize the establishment and maintenance of a veterans’ cemetery to serve the Interior and northern Alaska. The State Senate passed the bill on March 30.

Senate Bill 45, sponsored by Sen. Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, and Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, gives the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs the authority to establish veterans’ cemeteries and to set up a fund to provide for maintenance of the cemeteries. The bill also allows the Legislature to appropriate revenue generated by the sale of veterans’ commemorative license plates to the cemetery fund. Another section of the bill, unrelated to the cemetery provisions, clarifies veterans’ hiring preferences in state statutes.

“Providing for a final resting place for our veterans is an obligation that stretches back to America’s Revolutionary War and has continued through every conflict since then,” Huggins said. “I am proud that the Legislature has stepped up to this obligation, and appreciate the expedited passage of the bill by the House.”

“Alaska has the highest proportion of military veterans per capita, compared with other states,” said Therriault. “Out of an estimated 100,000 veterans statewide, about 11,000 of them live in the Interior and northern Alaska. We should be prepared to honor them as they deserve for their sacrifices made in defense of our state and nation. I appreciate the quick action by the Legislature in passage of this important piece of legislation.”

Senators Therriault and Huggins expressed their thanks to Representative Bill Thomas (R-Haines), Co-Chair of the Joint Legislative Veterans’ Caucus, who advocated for SB 45 on the floor of the House of Representatives.

“A veterans’ cemetery in the Fairbanks area will complement the national cemeteries in Sitka and on Ft. Richardson, so veterans from the Interior and northern Alaska can be interred closer to their homes and families,” Thomas said.
The law takes effect 90 days after the Governor signs it. Once a suitable location has been identified for the cemetery, the federal government has agreed to pay for its initial construction, while the state has agreed to be responsible for ongoing operation and maintenance.

# # #

SJR 3 Supporting NPS Concealed Carry Reg Passes Senate

Senate Passes Resolution (SJR 3) Supporting NPS Regulation
Allowing Park Users to Carry Concealed Weapons

JUNEAU – The Alaska State Senate today unanimously passed a resolution (SJR 3) commending the National Park Service and former President George Bush for adopting a regulation allowing park users who have state-issued concealed carry permits to carry a concealed firearm in national parks. The resolution also urges the present administration of Barack Obama to continue the rule and improve on it by allowing weapons to be carried openly.

After it took effect on January 9, the rule was challenged by environmental and gun control groups, resulting in a preliminary injunction stopping its implementation.

“Our expression of support for this rule through SJR 3 becomes ever more important and pertinent with the decision of the federal court to issue a preliminary injunction,” said Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, the prime sponsor of SJR 3. “We want the Obama administration to fight to defend the rule, which could mean the difference between life and death to a park user in extremely remote and wild areas of Alaska.”

Therriault noted that current federal park rules allow a handgun to be taken into a park, but it must be disassembled, unloaded, and kept where it is not readily accessible to the user. “The new rule is based on the logic that if a hiker is already allowed to carry a concealed weapon on most public land, there is no reason to deny them the same level of personal protection in federal parks. Carrying around an unassembled, unloaded gun in the Denali backcountry is not going to be of much use if you are suddenly charged by a bear,” Therriault said.

The groups that challenged the rule in federal court argued that the government had not gone through the process of generating an environmental analysis. The federal government defended the rule by pointing out that it did not authorize any environmental impacts, so there was no need for an environmental analysis.

SJR 3 will next go to the State House of Representatives for its consideration. After passage by the House, the resolution will be sent to President Obama, the leaders of Congress, and Alaska’s delegation in Congress. # # #

Portrait of the four Caucus Members

Senate Republican Caucus:

The four members of the Senate Republican Minority intend to draw on their expertise to promote back-to-basics government characterized by fiscal restraint, principled conduct, cooperation and progress on issues vital to Alaska.
December 2014
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