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2013 MatSu Voting District map that will be in effect for the next 10 years.





— The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed this week that the Alaska Redistricting Board must start from scratch and redraw the state's 40 legislative districts in a way that conforms to the state constitution.

In an order issued Wednesday, the court said that the board's failure in 2012 to create districts that met constitutional requirements means its entire plan is flawed, even districts that weren't challenged. The Supreme Court allowed the 2012 election to be conducted under the flawed plan, but only because there wasn't time to fix it.

The board hasn't met since mid-March and its only staff is an administrative assistant. Its chairman said earlier this week that the board would not resume work until after the U.S. Supreme Court decides a challenge by an Alabama county to the U.S. Voting Rights Act, expected in late June.

Jason Gazewood, the Fairbanks attorney who sued the Redistricting Board on behalf of two voters for violating the Alaska Constitution, said he was concerned the board wouldn't get its work done in time for the 2014 election.

Last month, the board asked the Supreme Court to clarify its ruling that tossed the board's map. The board asked the court whether it needed to draw all new districts, even districts that met constitutional guidelines. And, it asked, if it had to redraw all 40 House districts, would it be proper to use some of the 2012 boundaries if they happened to still work in a new plan?

It its order Wednesday, the court said "yes" on both counts but indicated the board needed to provide a new constitutional justification if it used the original boundaries.

"The first step in the redistricting process is to construct districts that comply with the requirements of the Alaska Constitution," the court wrote in its order. A district that is the same or similar to the 2012 district "will not in and of itself preclude the new district from being approved."

The court declined to respond to points raised by Gazewood in his own filing -- whether another round of public hearings would be needed for the new plan and whether the board was allowing sufficient time to enable a voter to challenge the next plan in court. The justices said Gazewood should bring those concerns to Superior Court in Fairbanks, where his challenge was brought in the first place.

Gazewood said Friday he hadn't decided how he would proceed.

The state constitution requires new House districts to be redrawn every 10 years to account for population shifts identified in the U.S. Census and to ensure, as much as possible, that each district has the same population. The constitution requires districts to be contiguous and compact and to contain a "relatively integrated socio-economic area." Two adjacent House districts make up a Senate district.

The U.S. Voting Rights Act imposes other standards to preserve the power of Native votes in some rural areas. The Alaska Supreme Court says the federal law must be applied after the boundaries are set under state law and adjusted if necessary -- not the other way around, as the Redistricting Board did.

Gazewood said it doesn't make sense for the board to await a decision in the Voting Rights Act case before drafting a new plan. Regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C., he said, the board will have to first draw up 40 districts that conform to the Alaska Constitution.

"If there's a state constitutional issue and nobody has a chance to look at it and assess it appropriately, we're going to be in the same position where we were before, which is the potential of having an interim plan in 2014, when this should've been done a long time ago," Gazewood said.

Board chairman John Torgerson did not respond to a message left on his work phone or to an email sent to his work address.

Reach Richard Mauer at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 257-4345.

Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2013/04/26/2880868/court-sends-redistricting-board.html#storylink=cpy



Last Updated (Sunday, 28 April 2013 10:10)


The Courts are allowing the "Amended" redistricting maps to be used for the 2012 Elections.  Here's the URL to the map of the MatSu voting districts:


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Last Updated (Wednesday, 27 June 2012 19:30)


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Last Updated (Saturday, 18 January 2014 11:15)


Here's a brief summary at what we could lose if the Supreme Court throws out the Affordable Health Care Act ("Obamacare").  This is good information to have on hand in case you encounter someone who is ill informed...


15 Consumer benefits under the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare)

1 Increased coverage of preventive services

Many health insurance plans are now subject to new rules that require them to cover recommended preventive services without charging a co-payment. As a result, consumers pay nothing for services like routine screenings, vaccines, counseling, flu shots and well-baby and well-child visits from birth to age 21.

2 Birth control coverage

One aspect of the preventive care coverage -- and among the most discussed provisions of the new health care law -- is the requirement that health insurance plans cover contraceptive services. After a widely publicized effort by religious leaders and Republican lawmakers to repeal this measure, the Obama administration announced a compromise that shifts the cost of contraceptive coverage from employers to insurance companies.

3 Restrictions on lifetime and annual limits

The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from placing lifetime limits on most benefits that consumers receive and sets a minimum for annual dollar limits. By 2014 annual dollar limits are slated to be phased out entirely.

4 Coverage for children with pre-existing conditions

Under the new law, insurance companies cannot deny coverage or limit benefits to children under age 19 because of a pre-existing condition or disability. Starting in 2014, people of all ages with pre-existing conditions will be protected.

5 Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan

Adults who have been refused insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions and who have remained uninsured for at least six months are eligible for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. The program covers primary and specialty care, prescription drugs and hospital visits without requesting higher premiums for pre-existing conditions.

6 No health plan barriers for ob-gyn services

Health plans cannot require women to get a referral from a primary care doctor before seeking ob-gyn services.

7 Access to out-of-network emergency room services

The Affordable Care Act prohibits a health plan from charging higher co-payments for emergency room visits in hospitals outside of the plan's network. Patients are also exempt from needing a plan's approval before seeking out-of-network emergency care.

8 Right to appeal health insurance plan decisions

Obama's health care law gives consumers the right to appeal decisions made by their health insurance providers. If an insurance company reviews its decision and still denies a consumer insurance coverage for a treatment, consumers have the right to request an external review and have an independent review organization decide whether to overturn the plan's decision. Some states have Consumer Assistance Programs that help people file appeals and request external reviews.

9 Consumer Assistance Program

The Affordable Care Act improves the services that some states provide to help people with insurance problems. Grants have allowed states to strengthen and grow programs that assist consumers with enrolling in a health insurance plan and with filing complaints and appeals.

10 More value for the insurance dollar

A provision of the law called the 80/20 rule requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of their premium dollars on medical care. If they don't, they must provide consumers with refunds starting this summer.

11 No insurance cancellations for honest mistakes

Insurance companies are not allowed to rescind coverage when patients make honest mistakes on their insurance applications. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could retroactively cancel patients' policies because of unintentional paperwork errors with little medical bearing.

12 Expanded Medicare coverage

The law gives elderly adults who face the Medicare coverage gap a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs covered by Medicare Part D. Seniors will receive additional prescription drug savings until the coverage gap is closed in 2020.

13 Indian Health Care Improvement Act reauthorized

The law reinstates the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which provides resources to curb the health care disparities faced by American Indians. Originally passed in 1976, the act was last reauthorized in 1992 and many of its provisions expired in 2000.

14 Tanning salon tax

The Affordable Care Act imposes a 10 percent tax on tanning beds, and these proceeds help underwrite other provisions of the law.

15 Expanded coverage for young adults on their parents’ plans

The law requires insurance plans that offer coverage of dependents to allow children to stay on their parents' plans until age 26. Adult children can be covered on their parents' plans even if they are married, eligible for work or student insurance, living away from home or financially independent.


Last Updated (Friday, 06 April 2012 08:40)