Monday newsletter outtakes: Opioid tax, pot taxes, Anchorage Muni election picks - Must Read Alaska
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Monday newsletter outtakes: Opioid tax, pot taxes, Anchorage Muni election picks

Must Read Alaska is taking a break this morning to send out thank you notes to all of our first-quarter supporters. But don’t forget, we have a Monday morning e-newsletter, and you should subscribe!

Here’s an outtake of what’s in today’s Must Read Alaska Monday newsletter. Go ahead — go to the right side of this page and sign up for the best way to kickstart your week. It’s free. (Meanwhile…feel free to support this conservative spot for news with a contribution, because we’d like to thank you, too.)

 GOOD MORNING from somewhere in Alaska … It’s Monday, April 3, 2017…Two weeks left in the 90-day legislative session, which ends on Easter…Will it be resurrected into special session? (When was the last time the Alaska Legislature didn’t have a special session?) … Most MRAK readers are conservative Alaskans, but all are welcome…Share this newsletter with your open-minded friends…But first…

THIS WEEK IN SUPREMES: This week, Neil Gorsuch will likely be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has had a vacancy for 13 months, since Antonin Scalia died. We predict drama prior to confirmation. Democrats will filibuster. Republicans will tire of it, change the rules, and vote. And we will have to fix our spell checks so that Gorsuch doesn’t auto-correct to “Grouch.” #annoying.

THIS WEEK IN JUNEAU:
House Finance takes up Governor Bill Walker’s income tax bill, HB 115, today (Monday) at 1 pm.
Senate Resources takes up the Jonesville Public Use Area bill, SB 65, today at 3:30 pm
House Finance takes up Governor Bill Walker’s motor fuel tax, HB 60, Wednesday1:30 pm

THIS WEEK IN OIL COMPANIES: They’re considering it a win if they break even, according to this analysis in the Wall Street Journal. 

Cliff notes: Despite billions of dollars in spending cuts and a modest oil-price rebound, Exxon MobilShellChevron and BP   didn’t make enough money in 2016 to cover their costs, according to the Journal.

ANCHORAGE MUNI ELECTION TUESDAY: It’s math. If everyone of the thousands of Anchorage residents who read this newsletter take the time to vote on Tuesday, we’ll have a moderate-conservative Assembly in Alaska’s biggest little town.

MUST READ ALASKA’S ANCHORAGE MUNI BALLOT:

ASSEMBLY

District 1 – Seat B – Downtown
COX, Chris

District 2 – Seat C – Eagle River / Chugiak
BRASSELL, John (up and comer) or
DYSON, Fred (older warrior)

District 3 – Seat E – West Anchorage
NEES, David

District 4 – Seat G – Midtown Anchorage
SANDERS, Marcus or
SMITH, Don

District 5 – Seat I – East Anchorage
JONES, Don 

District 6 – Seat K – South Anchorage
FOGLE, Albert 

SCHOOL BOARD

Voted on areawide by all in the Municipality of Anchorage:

School Board Seat C
DONLEY, Dave

School Board Seat D
SCHUSTER, Kay

PROPOSITIONS

YES – PROPOSITION 1 – SCHOOL BONDS, It’s not perfect, but the projects are mostly needed repairs that won’t get any less expensive with further delay.
NO – PROPOSITION 2 – AMBULANCES AND LABOR, Borrowing to pay for 14 new firefighter positions? Just no.
NO – PROPOSITION 3 – PARKS AND REC, Nice projects have to wait in this economy.
YES – PROPOSITION 4 – STORM DRAINAGE, Infrastructure.
NO – PROPOSITION 5 – FIRE TRUCKS AND STATIONS, It can wait.
NO – PROPOSITION 6 – POLICE FACILITY UPGRADES, See above.
NO – PROPOSITION 7 – PARKS AND REC TAX AREA EXPANSION, The Muni looking for more folks to tax.
NO – PROPOSITION 8 – REPEALING TAXI CAB EXPANSION, See below:

THE MESSIEST PROPOSITION AWARD: Prop. 8 wins the prize for the most confusing proposition to ever hit a ballot in Anchorage. Taxi permit holders in Anchorage don’t want more cabs on the street. That’s why they want you to vote yes on Proposition 8.

A yes vote repeals the ordinance that is phasing in more cabs. With the taxi cab union out in force with flyers, chances are the public will vote yes.

A no vote continues opening up the taxi permits. Cabs would arrive on time because more would be available. More available cabs result in safer roads and happier customers.

(It almost doesn’t matter what the taxi permit holders want, because the world has moved on. Uber, Lyft and Zipcar are modeling the next generation of personal transportation in 49 other states. A bipartisan group of legislators in Juneau may make us the 50th.)

FACE-PALM DEPT: Can you believe it? Fully 20 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or the rest of the LGBTQ definitions, according to a Harris Poll done for the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD. It’s either the hippest new thing for millennials to say out loud, or it’s in the water. Read the survey here.

In other news, Sen. Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage, decided it was time for more LGBTQ legislation, because it’s always time to have more hearings in Juneau.

Berta gives you Senate Bill 72, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression — and beefing up the workload of the State Commission for Human Rights. Bring on the lawsuits.

MORE FACE-PALM: Rep. Jonathan Kriess-Tompkins has legislation to tax opioids. Which means he wants people who are taking medicine for chronic pain to pay more for that medicine. House Bill 196 creates a 1-cent tax on imports or manufacture of each milligram of morphine equivalent. Who actually pays for an opioid tax?

WE’RE HAPPY, RIGHT? Alaska is the second-happiest state in the U.S., right after Hawaii. That’s because we live in this big-and-awesome state most of the time, and vacation in hot-and-heavenly Hawaii? That’s our theory and we’re really happy about it. Read the Gallup poll here.

WHAT WE’RE READING:

POETS VS. TYRANTS: Yevtushenko, poet who denounced Stalin, has died. Our poet obituary of the week.

WHERE DID GONZAGA COME FROM: Some beautiful irony is our sports read of the week.

SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE, FASCINATED BY WHITTIER: But who isn’t? The Lives in Begich Tower is our Alaska voyeurism read of the week.

BLACK PIGMENT MATTERS: Vantablack is the world’s darkest black pigment, so dark that it flattens reality and swallows lasers. One British artist has a lock on the Vantablack market, and that has ticked off the other artists who now ban him from using the world’s pinkest pink. That’s our arts and science read of the week. 

LOOKING FOR CHANGE IN THE SOFA: On tonight’s  Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly agenda is the question of whether to eliminate the senior sales tax exemption for the purchase of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.

The borough staff believes it can pull in about $25,000 in sales taxes with the measure. The meeting begins at 5:30 pm in Borough Assembly Chambers, White Cliff Building.

WRANGELL POT TAX: The Wrangell Borough Assembly is getting ready to curb the business hours of marijuana stores, so no pot can change hands between 6 pm and 8 am. Also, they’ll be instituting a $10 tax on every ounce of cultivated pot that is sold. That would be on top of the $50 per ounce the state already charges in taxes. The money raised would go to the city’s general fund.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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