Briefs: Pageant, Derby, conference committee, governor’s race

Rep. Neal Foster and Bernadette Wilson at the Derby party on Saturday.

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON SB 26 CAN WAIT: The talk of the town last weekend was the annual Kentucky Derby Party in Anchorage at Simon and Seaforts on Saturday, but the talk of Juneau was “where’s Rep. Neal Foster, who is on the SB 26 Conference Committee?”

Well, we found him in Anchorage, at a Derby Party, with a derby in one hand and Bernadette Wilson in the other. And Alaskans wonder why the Legislature will likely need to go into special session. SB 26 is the restructuring of the Alaska Permanent Fund that would eliminate the need for income taxes.

Miss Alaska USA Alyssa London

FIRST TLINGIT TO COMPETE FOR MISS USA – Alyssa London, the first Tlingit to wear the Miss Alaska USA crown,  will compete for Miss USA 2017 on Sunday, May 14. London’s Tlingit name is Yáx Ádi Yádi (meaning most precious child) and is Eagle of the Killerwhale clan. She attended Stanford University.

The pageant was owned by President Donald Trump between 1996 and 2015, when it was purchased by William Morris Endeavor (WME/IMG).

SEALASKA HERITAGE LECTURES REP. EASTMAN: Rosita Worl, of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, lambasted Rep. David Eastman in a letter to the editor for his statements regarding Medicaid and abortion. She said his statements are reprehensible and that he should apologize.

SENATE SAVES JUNEAU ACCESS PROJECT – The Alaska Senate today voted on the capital budget, and they disallowed the governor from moving Juneau Access money into other projects. That means the road to Juneau is not dead, even though the governor has tried to kill it and the jobs and economic strength the road would bring to both Juneau and Haines. The total reduction in the governor’s capital budget is $35.5 million. It advanced to third reading.

INCOME TAX BILL TO GET SCHEDULED FOR SENATE VOTE – Today on the Senate floor, HB 115, the income tax bill offered by Governor Bill Walker through his surrogate Rep. Paul Seaton, was waved through two committees and will go directly to the Senate floor so everyone can get on the record as voting for or against a state income tax that would be similar to the federal IRS tax structure, but with no deductions.

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE ON HB 57, THE OPERATING BUDGET – The Alaska Senate voted to not back down from its amendments and then named its members to the budget conference committee for HB 57. Sens. Lyman Hoffman, Anna MacKinnon, and Donny Olson will negotiate with counterparts from the House: Reps. Neal Foster, Paul Seaton, and Lance Pruitt.

GARA OFFERS ANOTHER TAX, AND TOLL ROAD – Rep. Les Gara, who puts the D in Democrat, has filed another piece of tax legislation. HB 242 would establish landing tax for the Deadhorse Airport, and would create a toll road for three miles of the Dalton Highway. A tipster in Juneau said there may be an amendment to the bill creating a toll road through Gara’s district, up L Street-Minnesota Drive Expressway, from Snow City Cafe all the way to the turnoff for Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s house. It could generate far more money than his proposal for the Dalton.

GOVERNOR MAKING CAMPAIGN QUERIES – Scott Kendall, the governor’s chief of staff, is said to be quietly meeting with some of the big donors around Anchorage to line up support for the governor’s 2018 re-run. No word as to whether Bill Walker will run as a Democrat or a nonpartisan. But we’ll be looking for those leave slips from Chief Kendall, Communication Director Grace Jang, and Walker’s campaign-manager-on-the-public-dime John-Henry Heckendorn.