Alaska’s Vital Senior Benefits Program Extended to 2024

Juneau – Today, Alaska Governor Bill Walker put his signature on a significant piece of legislation to extend Alaska’s Senior Benefits Program through June of 2024. House Bill 236, sponsored by Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks), was officially signed into law in Fairbanks during the Annual Senior Citizen Recognition Day event organized by the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The bill passed the Alaska Legislature this year nearly unanimously.

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Compromise Reached on Major Fiscal Plan Component

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature made significant progress to address the ongoing fiscal crisis that has left the State of Alaska with a $2.3 billion budget gap. The House and Senate both passed the new compromise version of Senate Bill 26 that was referred from the conference committee this morning. The new version of the bill includes a spending cap on the use of earnings from the $65 billion Alaska Permanent Fund. SB 26 sets rules for a structured and predictable draw from the Earnings Reserve Account (ERA) to pay for Permanent Fund Dividends and to help pay for essential public services.

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Legislature Votes to Empower Local Pharmacies to Save Alaskans Money

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature unanimously passed legislation to empower local pharmacies and help lower prescription drug prices in Alaska. House Bill 240 will protect Alaska consumers by eliminating the use of “gag orders” by health care companies and prescription drug manufacturers. These orders are used to prevent local pharmacists from informing customers that they can save money by paying for some prescription drugs with cash rather than using health insurance. HB 240 also clarifies how pharmacies in Alaska can be audited by pharmacy benefit managers.

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Alaska Legislation Votes to Help Grow Alaska’s Mariculture Industry

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed a bill to change a state loan program to help Alaska’s fledgling mariculture industry. Participants in the industry often have trouble getting financing through private banks. House Bill 76 amends the current program to allow up to 40 percent of the fund to be used for loans to help pay for planning, construction, and operations of shellfish and seaweed hatcheries or enhancement projects.

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NOAA’s Alaska Assets Should Be Based in Alaska

Juneau – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives passed a resolution requesting that Alaska-focused assets of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) be based in Alaska. House Resolution 8 was put forward by the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee and carried by Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka).

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Bill to Early Fund Public Education in Alaska Signed Into Law

Juneau – Earlier today, Alaska Governor Bill Walker was joined by members of the Alaska Legislature and dozens of elementary school students for the official signing ceremony for legislation to early fund Alaska’s K-12 public education system. The signing ceremony for House Bill 287 was held at the Harborview Elementary School in Juneau. HB 287 authorizes the State of Alaska to spend $1.3 billion for K-12 education and student transportation. The bill was introduced at the beginning of the Second Session of the 30th Alaska State Legislature by House Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer). HB 287 was co-sponsored by 22 State Representatives and 12 Senators.

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House Votes to Put Alaskans Back to Work by Clearing Oil Tax Credit Backlog

Juneau – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives passed legislation proposed by Governor Bill Walker to issue bond debt to pay off the more than $800 million balance the state owes for oil and gas tax credits. House Bill 331 would discount the tax credit payments to more than cover the additional cost to the state of interest on the bond debt, which the state will then pay down over the next decade. In this manner, companies owed credits receive cash they can reinvest in additional development today while keeping the measure revenue neutral or revenue positive for the State of Alaska.

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