JUNEAU – Governor Bill Walker signed HB 137 and HB 234 into law Monday, creating new revenue for the Department of Fish and Game and expanding access to healthcare across Alaska. Governor Walker signed the two bills in Juneau.
Sponsored by Representative Dave Talerico of Healy, HB 137 increases hunting, trapping, and sport fishing fees, and generates over $9 million in annual revenue for the Department of Fish and Game. This will offset current and future cuts to the department, and help pay for the agency’s core services, including fish and wildlife management and research, habitat protection and restoration, and sport fisheries enhancement efforts. The money will also provide matching funds for federal aid dollars allocated to the department.
Governor Walker and Representative Talerico were joined by leaders from the Alaska Professional Hunters Association, the Alaska Outdoor Council, and Territorial Sportsmen at the bill signing. The Governor noted the significance of the user-groups’ support for HB 137, and their willingness to chip in more to generate new revenue for Alaska.[xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]
“With the state facing a $4 billion deficit, offsetting department cuts with new revenue is critical,” said Governor Walker. “This is the first time hunting, trapping, and sport fishing fees have been raised in over 20 years. I applaud Representative Talerico for bringing this measure forward, and these user-groups for doing their part to address Alaska’s budget challenges. This is the kind of pulling together we have been encouraging for over a year.”
Governor Walker also signed HB 234 into law yesterday. Sponsored by Representative Liz Vazquez of Anchorage, this bill requires insurers offering mental health benefits to reimburse patients for telemedicine services that are provided by a healthcare professional licensed in Alaska. This reform measure will increase access to healthcare across the state, and create a venue for Alaskans to utilize cost-effective, properly regulated healthcare services through state-of-the-art technology.
“HB 234 will allow Alaskans to use the phone or internet to receive mental health services that are not physically available in their community – saving money and resulting in healthier people,” Governor Walker said. “I applaud Representative Vazquez for her work on this bill. This reform measure will expand access to quality healthcare across our state.”
Source: State of Alaska [xyz-ihs snippet=”Adversal-468×60″]