Legislature Approves Increased Benefits for Those Displaced by Federal Construction Projects in Alaska

HB 131 Brings Alaska Statutes In line with Federal Law and Protects $700 Million in Federal Funding

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed legislation to increase the maximum relocation benefits available to those displaced by federally funded construction projects. House Bill 131 brings Alaska statutes in line with federal laws that were changed in 2012 with the passage of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. Prior to passage of the act, federal relocation benefit rates had not been changed in 30-years. HB 131 was sponsored by the House Transportation Committee under the leadership of Co-Chairs Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) and Rep. Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks).

“It’s important for Alaska’s laws to mirror the federal laws when possible. Doing so prevents confusion and protects millions of dollars in federal funding,” said Rep. Stutes. “House Bill 131 is a good example because it fixes a flaw in the current state law that continues to reflect more stringent eligibility criteria and smaller maximum reimbursement limits than the federal law, which was updated back in 2012.”

HB 131 establishes a uniform policy for the equitable treatment of those displaced due to federally funded public construction and improvement projects. The bill outlines the maximum allowed payments for moving and displacement costs including replacement dwellings and increased interest costs.

“Timely passage of this bill is more important that it might seem because it helps protect the $700 million the State receives every year in Federal Highway Administration and FAA funding by bringing the state into compliance with the federal law,” said Rep. Wool. “Bringing our state law into alignment with the federal law also protects Alaska’s ability to independently administer the federal program because having an equivalent state statute is a requirement for the delegated authority from the feds.”

House Bill 131 passed the Alaska House of Representatives by a unanimous vote in May of last year, and the Alaska State Senate unanimously approved the bill earlier today. HB 131 will be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.

For more information, please contact Laura Stidolph in Rep. Wool’s office at (907) 465-4976.

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