Alaska’s 2015 legislative session is coming to an end; bills are moving and work is being done on the budget. Below is agriculture-related legislation with positions the Alaska Farm Bureau is taking on them. Along with budget items that will affect the Ag community. This year, with nearly a 4 billion dollar deficit, is a tight budget year with many good programs being cut or reduced agency and statewide.
HB 20 –“An act limiting the application of neonicotinoid pesticides.” Introduced by Representative Drummond. Currently in the House Resources Committee
The Alaska Farm Bureau is opposing this bill as neonicotinoid pesticides are not currently being used in Alaska and there is not sufficient evidence that these pesticides are the cause of bee colony collapse as claimed.
HB 38 – “An act relating to the rapid response to, and control of, aquatic invasive species and establishing the aquatic invasive species response fund.” Introduced by Representative Seaton. Currently in the House Resources Committee, with an additional referral to the House Finance Committee.
Alaska Farm Bureau is providing support for this bill.
HB 53 – “An act relating to the application of pesticides and broadcast chemicals in certain public places near fish habitat or water used for human consumption and on state-owned land, land leased by or to the state, state highways, and state-owned rights-of-way.” Introduced by Representatives Kreiss-Tomkins, Ortiz and Gara. Currently in the House Transportation Committee with an additional referral to the House Finance Committee.
Alaska Farm Bureau opposes this bill. In controlling invasive weeds, quick response time is necessary.
HB 92 – “An Act relating to the labeling of food; relating to the misbranding of food; requiring labeling of food produced with genetic engineering; and providing for an effective date.” Introduced by Representative Tarr. Currently in the House Resources Committee with an additional referral to the House Finance Committee.
Alaska Farm Bureau agrees that people have a right to know what they are eating. Instead of piecemealing together labeling laws state by state, there should be a national labeling law. This would provide the knowledge consumers desire and consistency for producers and grocery stores.
HB 100 – “An Act establishing a credit against the net income tax for an in-state processing facility that manufactures urea or ammonia; relating to establishing the value of the state’s royalty share of gas production based on contracts with certain in-state processing facilities that manufacture urea or ammonia; and providing for an effective date.” Introduced by Representative Chenault. Moved from the House Resource Committee and is currently in the House Finance Committee.
Alaska Farm Bureau will be supporting this bill. Having an in-state processing facility of urea would provide a local option of fertilizer for some of our farmers.
HCR 6 – Proclaiming July 2015 to be Alaska Peony Month. Introduced by Representative Guttenberg. Currently in the House Resource Committee.
The Alaska Farm Bureau is providing support for this resolution.
SB 08 – “An act relating to the regulation and production of industrial hemp.” Introduced by Senator Ellis. SB 8 was referred to the Senate Resource, Judiciary and Finance Committees. Moved from the Senate Resource Committee, currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee with an additional referral to the Senate Finance Committee.
The Alaska Farm Bureau is supporting this bill with the caveat that the necessary steps are taken to make sure we don’t end up introducing a new noxious weed to this state.
HB 72 Operating Budget:
Farm to School Program:
Since its inception in May 2010, the Alaska Farm to School Program, operated through the Division of Agriculture, has assisted in getting 100% of our school districts serving at least one local food item in their meal programs. After the House Finance Committee cut the funding for this program, the Senate Finance Committee added the positions back in the budget so the division could look for other funding sources to keep the program running.
Phytosanitary Certification Program:
The Division of Ag provides the service of phytosanitary certification for products being exported. This was removed from the budget in the House. The Senate Finance Committee added funding back in for this year, allowing the division time to come up with a fee schedule that would cover the cost of this program.
Mount McKinley Meat & Sausage and the Potato Program:
Both of these programs had “one time increment” (OTI) language added to them. This means that they will be funded for this coming fiscal year, but will have to come back for legislative approval next session.
SB 26 Capital Budget
Alaska Association of Conservation Districts:
Funding for Soil and Water Conservation Districts has historically been provided in the capital budget. This year there was no funding added to the Governor’s budget. There has been a request submitted to add money for AACD.
Nutritional Alaskan Foods in Schools:
Starting in 2012 $3 million has been included in capital budgets to assist schools in purchasing Alaska grown, caught or harvested foods to be used in school meals. This program is run through the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development with assistance from the Division of Ag. This session no funding was added to the budget.
The Senate Finance Committee is currently working on the Capital Budget.
Information on legislation can be found at www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/start.asp. To follow specific bills use the Bill Tracking Management Facility (BTMF) http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/btmf_login.asp?session=29