Statewide Briefs

Panel nixes Palin pay
increase
A state commission has reversed it
recommendation to grant a pay raise to Gov.
Sarah Palin, but the panel is still pushing for a
$15,000 average raise for state legislators.
The State Offi cers Compensation
Commission had earlier recommended salary
increases for Palin, top state department heads
and lawmakers.
Under the recommendations, increased
pay for top offi cials would amount to about $1
million, with the bulk of that going to legislators.
Neither the governor nor department heads
had sought the salary increases.
Palin has said she would not accept an
increase.
In response, the commission abandoned
its earlier proposal to raise Palin’s salary from
$125,000 to $150,000.
Recommendations will formally be submitted
by Jan. 29, then they will automatically become
law unless the lawmakers pass a bill specifi cally
rejecting them.
Price of gas up nearly 12
cents after long slide
The average national price of gasoline rose
nearly 12 cents in the past three weeks, marking
the fi rst price hike after six months of steady
decreases, according to a national survey
released Sunday.
The average price of regular gasoline Friday
was $1.78 a gallon, oil industry analyst Trilby
Lundberg said. The price of mid-grade was
$1.91 a gallon and the price of premium was
$2.02 a gallon.
The increase was the fi rst since July 11,
when the average national price peaked at $4.11
a gallon.
Of cities surveyed, the nation’s lowest price
was $1.34 in Billings, Mont. The highest price
was $2.32 in Anchorage, Alaska.
GCI drops plan to charge
fee for inmate calls
An Alaska phone company has dropped
its plan to charge a $2 fee for calls made by
inmates of state prisons, jails and halfway
houses.
The Regulatory Commission of Alaska
in August announced plans to investigate
complaints it received about the proposed fee.
The fee would have been billed to people
who accept the calls.
Bail bondsmen were among those fi ling
complaints. The businesses said the fee could
cost them tens of thousands of dollars per year.
The RCA collected public testimony in
September and GCI has withdrawn the fee
proposal.
Family pleads for return of
cremated remains
A North Pole family says someone stole the
cremated remains of a family member during
a break-in, and they are pleading for their safe
return.
Lana Schneidewind says in early January
someone kicked in the door of her Fairbanks
home. She says a PlayStation 3, clothes and,
most importantly, the remains of her late mother,
Kathryn Morton, were taken.
She says the cremains had been placed in
three bags – one for each of Morton’s children
– and were in a brown container that was
wrapped in a blue velvet bag.
The family planned to spread the ashes in the
Colorado Mountains.
Alaska senators back
delaying of digital switch
Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark
Begich support President-elect Barack Obama’s
request to push back February’s nationwide
switch to digital television.
Those with TVs connected to cable or
satellite services are not affected. But those
who still use rabbit ear antennas need a new
television or converter box.
Begich will be among the fi rst to review
Obama’s proposal because it will need the
Commerce Committee’s backing, and Begich
sits on that panel.
The newly elected Begich, an Anchorage
Democrat, said the digital transition never
surfaced and a priority while he campaigned.
But he’s heard more about it in weeks leading up
to being sworn in Tuesday.
The National Telecommunications and
Information Administration estimates that about
42 percent of these households are ready for the
conversions.
Consumer advocates have been concerned
how low-income, rural or