NEWS: Pre-filed Bill Seeks to End High Cost Legislator Hotel, Dining, and Special Session Perks

Anchorage – Today, three members of the Alaska House of Representatives announced that they have pre-filed legislation to stop expensive charges by some legislators for hotels and meals. The bill also bans legislators from claiming per diem payments, which can exceed $200 per day, when Special Sessions are held in their home towns with no actual hotel costs. Last summer, some legislators and staff billed the state over $400 and $500 per night (including taxes) for hotel rooms in Seattle to attend the annual summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures. This occurred as the state is facing a more than $3 billion budget shortfall.

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NEWS: Town Hall Meeting Hosted by Sen. Gardner, and Reps. Drummond and Josephson this Saturday

ANCHORAGE – Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage), Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage), and Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) will host a town hall constituent meeting this Saturday at the West Romig Library from 10am to 11:30am, for residents of Spenard, Midtown, and the UMed district. The meeting will be held in advance of the Second Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature, which begins on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 in Juneau.

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NEWS: “Right to Try” Legislation Proposed to Help the Terminally Ill in Alaska

FAIRBANKS – Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and Representative Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage) will introduce a “right to try” bill in the upcoming 2nd Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature. The bill will be the House companion to SB 113, which was introduced by Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) in April.

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NEWS: Massive Scope of Proposed Fiscal Changes Demands Thorough Review of Impacts on Alaskans of All Income Levels

ANCHORAGE – Today, Alaska Governor Bill Walker unveiled an ambitious budget plan called “The New Sustainable Alaska Plan” that shifts much of the burden of paying for state government from the oil and gas industry onto the backs of hard-working, average Alaskans. The Governor’s proposal includes fundamental changes to how vital state services in Alaska are funded including new or increased taxes on income, fishing, mining, tourism, alcohol, tobacco, and motor fuel. The Governor’s proposal also makes drastic cuts to vital early education opportunities in Alaska and would result in significantly reduced Permanent Fund Dividends. The 13 members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition thank Governor Walker for his leadership and the public process used to come up with the proposed budget plan but will insist that every proposed change be thoroughly vetted by the Alaska Legislature.

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OP-ED: Pivotal Moment in Alaska’s History

This moment in Alaska’s history is pivotal in determining what our future as a state will look like. The sudden drop in oil prices and the broken promises of increased oil production in return for excessive tax cuts and credits have resulted in a nearly $3.5 billion budget gap that must be closed. Alaska is required by law to produce a balanced budget. However, a budget is more than just numbers on a page. It should reflect the basic values of the people.

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NEWS: Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Supports Legislation to Remove Unneeded Partner from AKLNG Natural Gas Pipeline Project

JUNEAU – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives joined the Alaska Senate in approving legislation funding the buyout of TransCanada from the long-awaited AKLNG natural gas pipeline project. Removing TransCanada from the AKLNG partnership increases the state of Alaska’s total ownership share in the pipeline and associated infrastructure up to twenty-five percent.

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NEWS: Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Ready for the Gasline Special Session

ANCHORAGE – The third Special Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature is scheduled to start Saturday morning with House and Senate floor sessions. Governor Bill Walker has scheduled a briefing for all lawmakers Saturday afternoon to outline the details of the three pieces of legislation that will be under consideration. The members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition (AIDC) are looking forward to the Governor’s detailed briefing but are dismayed by today’s announcement from the Senate President and the Speaker of the House that members of the House Finance and Senate Resources Committee’s will be encouraged to skip the briefing in favor of committee hearings on the same subjects at the same exact time as the Governor’s briefing.

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NEWS: Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Disappointed Legislative Council Fails to Withdraw Medicaid Expansion Lawsuit

ANCHORAGE – Earlier today, the Alaska State Legislature’s Republican-controlled Legislative Council failed to withdraw its ill-advised lawsuit against Governor Bill Walker over his decision to accept federal funds to expand eligibility for the Medicaid program in Alaska. The Legislative Council, which only includes one member of the minority in the House and Senate, met behind closed doors in Anchorage to discuss the Council’s lawsuit. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Council took no action. The result of this inaction is that the lawsuit will continue.

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