Legislature approves Susan Butcher Day

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A bill establishing Susan Butcher Day on the first Saturday of every March was approved by the Legislature on Monday, more than a year after it was introduced.

“HB 37 celebrates Susan Butcher’s life,” said Sen. Joe Thomas, a Fairbanks Democrat who signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill, during Monday’s Senate floor session. “This bill recalls her accomplishments, tells others to take inspiration from her adventures and to emulate her positive attitude in life.”

Butcher, who won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race four times, died August 2006 after battling leukemia.

Sen. Albert Kookesh, a Democrat from Angoon, also spoke in favor of the bill.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks, passed the Senate 14-2, with four senators excused. The two no votes came from Senate President Lyda Green and Sen. Charlie Huggins, both Wasilla Republicans.

Gov. Sarah Palin supports the bill, according to the her spokeswoman.

Tax exemption for soldier spouses

A bill sponsored by Rep. John Coghill, R-North Pole, that would allow municipalities to provide a partial or complete property tax exemption to the widows and widowers of soldiers killed in action moved out of the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee last week and on to the House Finance Committee.

Coghill introduced the bill at the request of Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker after Whitaker was approached by Susan Hernandez, whose husband, Sgt. Irving Hernandez Jr., was killed in Iraq.

During a hearing last week, the committee agreed to change language in the bill so that it applied to anyone determined to have died because of injuries sustained in a war zone, not just those who died within 90 days of being wounded.

A Senate version of the bill, sponsored by North Pole Republican Sen. Gene Therriault, is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee today.

Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

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