Using Data to Help Train Alaskans for the Modern Economy

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed a bill to improve the state’s workforce training efforts by using data collected by state entities. House Bill 221 unanimously passed the Alaska State Senate today after passing the Alaska House of Representatives last month with broad bipartisan support. HB 221 allows the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education to create a new education statistics program called the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) through partnerships with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and the University of Alaska.

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Public Records Restriction for Past Marijuana Convictions Passes House

Juneau – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives passed legislation introduced by Representative Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage) to protect Alaskans’ ability to go to work despite past convictions for marijuana possession. House Bill 316 restricts public access to records related to simple marijuana possession in the wake of voter approval of legalization in Alaska in November of 2014. The bill also calls for the Alaska CourtView system to be wiped clean of all marijuana convictions classified as a VIA misdemeanor. The citizens’ initiative allowed the sale and consumption of recreational marijuana but failed to address how to deal with those previously convicted of marijuana possession.

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Early Education Update, PFD Application Deadline, and Vote by Mail Reminder

I am excited to report a major step forward in efforts to better coordinate and utilize state resources dedicated to early childhood in Alaska. When it comes to young children, there is no line between early education and early development. You really can’t have one without the other, and there is no more important time for children to learn and grow than during their earliest years.

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House Unanimously Passes Legislation Authorizing Commercial Hemp Farming in Alaska

Juneau – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances and to authorize commercial farming of hemp in Alaska. Senate Bill 6 passed the State Senate unanimously last April, and today the bill passed the house by a vote of 36-0. The bill is sponsored by Senator Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) who sought to build on the efforts to authorize industrial hemp by former State Senator Johnny Ellis from Anchorage. SB 6 was carried on the House floor by Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage).

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Reps. Gara and Drummond to Push Needed Increase in School Support

Juneau – Today, Representatives Les Gara (D-Anchorage) and Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage) introduced legislation to increase the Base Student Allocation (BSA) in Alaska by $100. The BSA is the amount provided to school districts each year for each student enrolled. Funding for public education in Alaska is roughly $25 million less today than compared to 2015, according to the non-partisan Legislative Finance Division. The loss is even greater, $90 million if you consider the effects of inflation.

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