HB197 public comments postponed (again)

As of this writing, there is no further scheduled public comment on the bill.  HOWEVER, according to the Legislative Information Office, they encourage the public to write up their comments and send it to the sponsors of the bill.  Thus, the sponsors will 1) have the comments when they consider the bill, 2) you won’t have to wait hours by the phone, and 3) you can write longer than the 2 minutes allowed for public (verbal) comments. Additionally, those comments are attached to the bill and other members of the public can read them, too.

Here are the emails of the committee members:

Representative.Andy.Josephson@akleg.gov, Representative.Geran.Tarr@akleg.gov, Representative.Chris.Birch@akleg.gov,

Representative. Harriet.Drummond@akleg.gov,

Representative.Justin.Parish@akleg.gov, Representative.Delena.Johnson@akleg.gov,

Representative.George.Rauscher@akleg.gov, Representative.George.Talerico@akleg.gov

If you are so inclined, please write the representatives and voice your concern over the content of the bill. Remember, we are in favor of the intent of the bill, just not the specifics.  Please read the full post, below.


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HB197 testimony rescheduled to Thursday at 5:00 PM

If you are still interested in testifying against the current seed bill, the phone number to contact is 844-586-9085 at 5:00PM Thursday, April 13

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JTEL Opposed to HB197; public testimony today at 1:00

The JTEL Board of Directors met last night to discuss HB197; legislation regarding Seed Libraries, and is opposed to the specifics of the pending legislation. Here is a brief history and the reasons that we are opposed:

History: The USDA (Dept. of Agriculture) Federal Seed Act and Alaska Administrative Code 11 AAC 34.075 prohibit the sale and/or bartering of non-commercial seeds unless they have been properly labeled and tested. Several states, including California, have enacted laws that exempt small seed exchanges and/or libraries from such cumbersome regulations. HB197 is trying to do so in Alaska.

Reasons for opposition: While we are not opposed to the intent of the proposed legislation, we are opposed to the specifics, namely:

  1. The Division of Natural Resources would administer this program, not local entities
  2. The proposed legislation only allows 100 grams per person per year per variety of seed. Does that mean we will have to track names, addresses, quantity of seed, etc. for DNR, and therefore potentially violate rights of privacy for our recipients?
  3. 100 grams is a lot for small seeds, but what about seed potatoes and/or bulbs? One or more of these types of seeds will easily exceed the 100 grams limit.
  4. Labeling with name of seed, donor’s name and address, year of packaging, weight and the wording “Not authorized for commercial use and not classified, graded or inspected by the State of Alaska” are required labels for every seed packet that may be bartered/exchanged under the proposed legislation. The requirements to include home address infringes on the privacy of donors and may deter individuals.
  5. The language refers to sellers instead of donors and refers to the year seed was packaged for sale – neither of which are appropriate references for donors and freely traded seeds.
  6. Seeds must be from plants grown in-state. Thus, out of state donations of seed, which we have obtained in the past both from other seed libraries and from individuals who have harvested from their previous residences, are prohibited.
  7. Restricting donations to in-state seeds also jeopardizes one of the compelling reasons for having seed libraries in the first place: protection of seed varieties and global access to food sources.  The regular exchange of seeds among communities and peoples has allowed crops to adapt to different conditions, climates and topographies.  This is what has allowed farming to spread and grow and feed the world with a diversified diet.  It is critical to global food security to continue to trade seeds through other seed libraries and exchange programs.
  8. Only untreated seeds are allowed, which is an understandable desire, but it is not reasonable to expect a seed library to be able to certify that this requirement is being met, which would make it nearly impossible to accept any seed donations.
  9. There is no protective clause, ie: what happens if a seed library inadvertently violates a provision?

Talking points for letters and/or comments to your legislators:

  1. The intent of the proposed legislation is good
  2. The restrictions on labeling and weight should be deleted or modified to protect privacy and make exception for heavier seeds, bulbs, tubers or seed potatoes.
  3. Restrictions on in-state seeds should be deleted
  4. Restrictions on untreated seeds should be deleted
  5. References to donors as sellers and seeds packaged for sales should be modified to reflect donors or donations, not sellers or sales
  6. Add a protective clause, such as: “For purposes of this section, anyone determined to be engaging in noncommercial seed sharing shall not be subject to the criminal prosecution or monetary fines for violations of any other section of this chapter.”

The bill is up for public comment today from 1:00-3:00 PM. You can either call in for teleconferencing at 1-844-586-9085, or go to the Sadler’s Building (1292 Sadler Way, Suite 308) for in-person comments (they prefer this method, as the phone connection is better).  For others around the state, the Legislative Information Offices has phone and email contact info here.  There are several other bills on the agenda, so if you have a speaker phone and can listen in, then speak when called upon, that is best.

Thank you to all who can lend their voice to the opposition of this legislation. The future of the seed library in Ester and around the State thank you!

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HB197 – Seed Library legislation

Some of you have heard about this bill making its way through the State house committee, and have even left messages on our voice mail. We are aware of the bill, and are opposed to it, however, we need to meet as a board (tomorrow, Tuesday, April 11) in order to flesh out our opposition.

Once we have come up with our official stance, we will post talking points on this site and our Facebook site, in order to inform you, and if you so desire, comment on the bill as it makes its way through committee.  Please check back after Wednesday, April 12.

Thanks for those of you who have voiced concern!

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Thanks for your Pick.Click.Give Pledges!!

PCG thanks

Over $2 million was raised by Alaskan non-profits, with 22 persons pledging $1,150 just to JTEL!  Thanks a million to all those who donated – we couldn’t do it without you!

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Collections and inventory – March 2017

While March was minimal for new books entered into the online catalog (only 5 titles, bringing the total to 7,687), a great deal was done with regard to the collections. First, the trim work and office space at the Clausen Cabin were finished, representing many hours put in by board members Gary Pohl, Mindy Gallagher, Syrilyn Tong, Eli Sonafrank, and other volunteers (thank you!) as well as in-kind donations (rope from Marina Day, the carpet, the office desk, and lastly the phone and printer side table, from Tong). Next, a mini-grant for a new children’s program was obtained from the Golden Heart Community Foundation. Third, president Tong measured the linear feet of shelf space in each section of the library at Frank’s (the JTEL facility that is currently open). This helped determine how many shelving units would be needed to house books for the collections to be moved to the Clausen Cabin (Alaskana, children’s, cooking and gardening, and others to be determined). Betty Swanson donated some hunting and fishing books along with hydrology, revegetation, and western history books that had been part of her husband’s estate, and was given a short tour of the facilities. An anonymous donor gave us another, very special book: a new edition of surrealist artist Salvador Dali’s fabulous Les Diners de Gala, a title that had been on our wish list (see description below). And finally, several board members and a few volunteers moved shelving units from the storage unit and packed up catalogued books from the appropriate sections and moved them into the cabin, placing them on the newly-installed shelves. A busy month indeed!

Dali (1904–1989) is well-known for his surreal artwork, and this book is a celebration of cooking, food, his beloved wife Gala, and surrealism. From his own description: “Les diners de Gala is uniquely devoted to the pleasuresTaschen_Dali_Cookbook_INT_7 of taste … If you are a disciple of one of those calorie-counters who turn the joys of eating into a form of punishment, close this book at once; it is too lively, too aggressive, and far too impertinent for you.” Taschen has reprinted this book, featuring 12 chapters with 136 recipes organized by course (including aphrodisiacs), illustrated and filled with  comTaschen_Dali_Cookbook_INT_3mentary by Dali. As Taschen describes, “All these rich recipes can be cooked at home, although some will require practiced skill and a well-stocked pantry. This is cuisine of the old school, with meals by leading French chefs from such stellar Paris restaurants as Lasserre, La Tour d’Argent, Maxim’s, and Le Train Bleu.”

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Books at the Clausen Cabin!!

Finally, the day has arrived that renovations are mostly done and books have been officially moved into the Clausen Cabin.  As of last weekend, a great work crew moved in two huge bookshelves and began moving books from Frank’s Place to the Clausen Cabin.

The Alaskana and children’s collections are now at the Clausen Cabin, with times and dates open to the public to be determined.  If you would like to browse and check out anything from these two collections, please contact us at 907-374-8080, with a couple of days advance notice, and we will work something out.

In the meantime, an Easter egg hunt is in the planning, and we will have a soft opening at that time.  Stay tuned for more details!

shelves with books

Alaskana and Children’s sections in the shelves

Empty shelves waiting for books

Special thanks to the following for their help and assistance in moving the shelves and books into Clausen:  Board members Gary Pohl, Marina Day, Carrie Correia, Mo Musick, Syrilyn Tong and volunteers Josh Harris and Deirdre Helfferich.

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Last Day to File for the PFD and Give to JTEL!!

Midnight is the deadline for filing and/or changing your Pick.Click.Give pledges. If you haven’t yet filed, DO IT NOW!!  If you haven’t chosen a Pick.Click.Give recipient, chose JTEL!

All monies are earmarked towards the renovation of the Clausen Cabin. We need to patch the roof, and replumb the bathroom (and make it ADA accessible) in order to make this a truly functioning library, so please consider donating to JTEL.Readers PCG

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A special thanks to Betty Swanson for her donation of a box of books, Eric Glos for his help with the baseboard trim, Ginny Gallagher for her help with painting and general clean-up, and to Mike Stredny for his donation of our new office desk! Without your help, we couldn’t do it, so thanks a million!

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Last 2 weeks to enter the PFD raffle!!

If you haven’t done so already, please consider making the minimum donation of $25 to JTEL through the Pick.Click.Give program via your Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. By doing so, you’ll be entered into a drawing for an additional PFD (5 lucky Alaskans will be awarded this extra dividend this October!). Even if you’ve already filed, you can re-open your application and make your donation.

Not only are you helping JTEL, but if we increase the total donors by 16 additional donors, we stand a chance of receiving an additional $5000 due to an affiliate PFD program.

Don’t wait – file or re-open your application and Pick.Click.Give to JTEL!

Readers PCG

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