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Alaska’s Friends and Family Plan

The state also has begun work on a high-speed ferry project connecting downtown Anchorage with Port MacKenzie, according to state records.

Young included in this year’s WRDA provisions requiring the federal government to conduct a study of the impacts the bridge project would have on navigation in the Cook Inlet. The WRDA bill passed the House on April 19, and the Senate is expected to pass its version, which at press time did not include similar language, this week.

Separately, the House on May 7 passed the Alaska Water Resources Act of 2007, which, among other things, requires the Department of Interior to conduct a groundwater resources study of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Also known as the Mat-Su, the borough is the home to Port MacKenzie and the area Young’s Knik Arm bridge would connect to Anchorage. The bill passed the chamber by voice vote.

Murkowski and Stevens in January introduced a companion measure in the Senate, saying in a floor statement that the study was needed to ensure there would be no “limits on future economic development” in the Mat-Su region.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed a version Feb. 16, although the full chamber has yet to act on it.

According to land records compiled by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Senate financial disclosure forms and published accounts, Stevens’ current Chief of Staff George Lowe owns a 2.6 acre parcel of undeveloped land in south-central Mat-Su, which he purchased in December 2004 from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, according to a copy of the deed.

The property, which is undeveloped, has seen marked growth in its value. Borough records show that Lowe’s land went from being appraised at $47,000 in 2005 to $57,500 in 2006. The value remained the same this year.

Former Stevens aide Lisa Sutherland also stands to see significant financial gain from the development of south-central Mat-Su. Sutherland, a close confidante of Stevens, worked for the lawmaker from 1977 until this March in a variety of capacities, including deputy staff director on the Appropriations Committee and then staff director on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Sutherland left the Senate payroll in March to work full time on Stevens’ re-election campaign.

According to land records she and her husband, Scott, who is a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., for Ducks Unlimited, own just under four acres in south-central Mat-Su, which they purchased in October 2002. The value of the land went from $38,400 in 2005 to $65,000 in 2006, according to the assessment. The Sutherlands also own several other properties in the Borough.

Murkowski State Director Mary Hughes also has property in south-central Mat-Su, which her family has owned for several decades. Hughes told the Anchorage Daily News in 2006 that her family would visit the lakeside lot during her childhood.

Additionally, Art Nelson, Young’s son-in-law, owns a 10 percent stake in Point Bluff LLC, a landowner in the area, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Point Bluff owns two pieces of land in south-central Mat-Su, a 20.4-acre parcel and a 38.8 acre parcel. Land records indicate the pieces were purchased on Dec. 6, 2002. The assessed value of the 20-acre plot has gone from $121,000 in 2005 to $131,900 in 2006, while the 38-acre plot has gone from $169,000 to $180,000 in the same time.

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