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Alaska Legislature

Alaska lawmakers’ latest ideas include term limits, opioid restrictions, state-level net neutrality

The Alaska State Capitol last year. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Should Alaska lawmakers have term limits? Could the state reduce the number of commercial setnet salmon fishermen in Cook Inlet, possibly leaving more fish for dipnetters, commercial gillnetters and sportfishermen? And should doctors be required to warn patients of the addictive nature of opioid drugs?

Those are questions posed by a new batch of bills unveiled by Alaska legislators Friday — four days before the start of the annual session in Juneau.

The 15 proposals tackle subjects ranging from technology to fish and wildlife management to the alcoholic drinks that craft distilleries can and can't serve. Here's a rundown of some of the most interesting ideas.

One thing to keep in mind: If history is a guide, few of these proposals will end up as laws. Only about 20 percent of such "prefiled" bills in the previous two-year legislative session ended up being signed into law.

Senate Bill 135, from Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna

Micciche wants the state to hold a vote among eastern Cook Inlet setnetters on whether to try to reduce the number of fishermen by 40 percent. If the idea is approved, it allows the state to buy back permits for $260,000 apiece.

SB 136, from Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River

MacKinnon wants to give the courts new authority to require defendants' bail money to be used for restitution, if the defendant is convicted. She also wants to require convicts to make required restitution payments during an appeal, with the money held by the courts until the case is finished.

SB 138, from Micciche

Micciche wants to institute new caps on the daily expense checks, also known as per diem, paid to Alaska legislators. The size of the expense checks would fall if lawmakers miss deadlines for adjournment, or for passing their annual budget.

House Bill 268, from Les Gara, D-Anchorage

Gara wants to require doctors to warn patients about the dangers of addictive opioid drugs before prescribing them. And he's proposing to authorize penalties against doctors who fail to issue those warnings.

HB 269, from Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage

Tuck's one-page bill aims to fix a legal problem that limits craft distilleries' ability to sell cocktails.

HB 270, from Dan Saddler, R-Eagle River

Saddler wants to block the state transportation department from levying taxes or collecting fees for plane registrations.

HB 271, from Matt Claman, D-Anchorage

With some lawmakers opposed to a bill to add statewide restrictions on smoking in public spaces, Claman aims to advance the proposal by adding a new opt-out provision, which would allow communities to vote to exempt themselves.

HB 272, from Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage

Josephson wants to create a game refuge in the Tangle Lakes area, a popular hunting and recreation spot north of the Denali Highway between Anchorage and Fairbanks, to limit potential impacts from mining.

HB 276, from Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage

LeDoux wants to require violations of the Legislature's discrimination and harassment policies to be referred to a special legislative ethics committee, which has five members of the public and four lawmakers.

HB 277, from Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks

Kawasaki wants the Legislature to create state-level rules to reinstate the so-called "net neutrality" provisions recently rescinded by the Federal Communications Commission. The rules favored by Kawasaki would block internet providers from speeding up or slowing down access to certain websites or services.

House Joint Resolution 27, from Sam Kito III, D-Juneau

Kito is proposing a constitutional amendment to institute eight-year term limits for state legislators. After being in office for that long, lawmakers would have to take a two-year hiatus before returning.

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