Alaska Editorials

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Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:

April 25, 2013

Kodiak Daily Mirror: Safe disposal

It has become a regular event, like spring cleaning: drug collection days.

The first National Drug Collection Day of 2013 is Saturday. The idea is to safely dispose of unwanted or expired prescription drugs so they don't get into the wrong hands (people who will use them or sell them) or the wrong places (water bodies).

The events are sponsored by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which notes that "unused medications in homes create a public health and safety concern, because they are highly susceptible to accidental ingestion, diversion, misuse, and abuse."

One surprising, nay, shocking statistic from the DEA puts prescription drug abuse rate "higher than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined, according to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet, according to surveys of users."

The take-back collections began in 2010, with one collection day that year, two in 2011 and two in 2012. Over those years, Alaskans have disposed of 9,377 pounds of such drugs — that's close to 5 tons.

Only solid medications — no liquids or needles — will be accepted during Saturday's take-back day. You can check the DEA's web site at www.justice.gov/dea/index.shtml

Click on the "Got drugs" link to put in your zip code to find collection locations. The site says locations are added daily, but so far, the Ketchikan sites are Alaska State Troopers headquarters on North Tongass and Ketchikan High School. Troopers say they will accept the drugs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Kayhi will be taking them during First City Expo, which begins at 10 a.m. in the gym.

Don't dump those unused pills in the toilet or the garbage — turn them in to keep them out of circulation and out of our water. It's easy, free and no questions will be asked.

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April 27, 2013

Ketchikan Daily News: Let's vote on it

With an issue as volatile as oil-tax reform, it's not surprising it might be coming to a voter referendum.

The state Legislature tried several times in recent years to adjust the rules applying to oil taxes. This most recent session it passed Senate Bill 21, which awaits, and is likely to receive, Gov. Sean Parnell's signature. Parnell believed the Legislature and his office needed to act in response to declining oil production, the source of 90 percent of the state's revenue.

The action created division within the Legislature — no unanimous vote there — and throughout Alaska. Those who opposed SB21 believed it gave too much cash to the oil companies; those who supported it hope it doesn't and instead provides incentives to the oil companies to produce more oil.

Time will tell, but in the meantime, a referendum, which would be on a ballot next year, accomplishes at least three things:

1. It lets Alaskans speak directly on the issue. Each Alaskan who is properly registered will be allowed to cast a vote. Not just politicians or lobbyists; no corporations, just the people. These are people who are engaged and accepting — in some cases demanding — the responsibility to be informed and to vote from that perspective.

2. It gives Alaskans another look at the issue after SB21 is enacted into law. In a year or year and a half when the referendum makes it to an election, voters will have had an opportunity to watch and listen for indications oil companies are advancing toward increased oil production.

3. The oil companies can begin to take steps to increase production. Their action or inaction could decide an eventual election.

But first things first. The "Vote Yes — Repeal the Giveaway" group will have to collect 30,169 signatures of registered Alaskan voters by July 13, 2013 in order to get the referendum on the ballot. The Division of Elections expects to get signature books to the group next week.

Undoubtedly, some of those books will end up in Ketchikan and Metlakatla and on Prince of Wales Island.

Signatures should be forthcoming. It's prudent to take a second look at a critically important question regarding Alaska's finances. As a matter of fact, Alaskans should be, and often are, so inclined on such issues continually. It's our state. It's our oil. It's our future, which is determined by the path to be taken in regard to oil taxes.

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