Walker downsizes state’s Washington office

  • Thursday, November 12, 2015 8:48pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — There will be fewer people staffing the state of Alaska office in Washington, D.C.

The lobbying office for the state will be reduced to two positions.

Gov. Bill Walker says he and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, along with cabinet members, will fill the void in lobbying efforts and outreach to federal officials. Walker anticipates the downsizing of the office will save about $400,000 a year.

There were initially five people who staffed the liaison and lobbying office. Of those, two were fired last month, and the job of another was not filled when the person took another job U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan’s office.

JUNEAU, Alaska — The U.S. Senate has passed legislation aimed at promoting pro bono legal services for domestic violence victims.

The bill was introduced by Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan. It would require that U.S. attorneys in each district annually hold at least one event with those providing services to domestic violence victims and a volunteer lawyer project promoting pro bono legal help.

It’s similar to an idea Sullivan promoted as state attorney general. Sullivan said he’s grateful that many lawyers in Alaska continue providing free legal help to victims.

Sullivan says Alaska has unacceptably high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence. He said the bill, if it passes Congress, will help make a difference.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a former attorney general of her state, was a co-sponsor.

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska Gasline Development Corp. will reassess the role of a South Carolina-based consultant as his contract nears an end, a spokesman said Thursday.

Rigdon Boykin signed a contract with the state-sanctioned corporation, known as AGDC, in May. The termination date has been extended twice. It’s now due to expire Dec. 31. The contract says Boykin is to be paid a total of up to $850,000.

With the pending transfer of TransCanada Corp.’s interest in a major proposed gas project to AGDC, the corporation will re-evaluate how Boykin’s skills might be used going forward or if his services are still needed, AGDC spokesman Miles Baker said.

Who Gov. Bill Walker may want leading the state team negotiating terms for the project is a bigger question that may affect the role that Boykin plays for AGDC, Baker said. “But it hasn’t been changed as of now,” he said.

Lawmakers were told in September that Boykin was leading the state’s gas team. His specific role in the gas team moving ahead is under review, Baker said.

Boykin is taking some time off following the special session, which ended last week, and a “multi-month period of uninterrupted negotiations,” Baker said.

“We fully expect him back within a couple weeks,” he said.

Walker told Boykin to get some rest, Walker spokeswoman Katie Marquette said.

Boykin said he hadn’t been off in months and is calling in for things from South Carolina. He declined comment beyond that.

During the recent special session, in which the Legislature approved buying out TransCanada’s stake, lawmakers voiced concerns with and confusion over the level of organization of the state’s gas team.

The liquefied natural gas project, which the state is pursuing with the North Slope’s major producers, is seen by many as key to Alaska’s financial future.

— The Associated Press

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