Note from Rep. Gara: I’m Back and Reporting for Duty Sir / Ma’am!

Sorry I’ve been out of touch for a bit. As you may know, I had to leave Juneau a few days into special session for surgery, which turned out great. I’m on my way home today – to the relief of my nephews who’ve been humoring me, and listening to me gripe about the Red Sox for two and a half weeks. They’re Yankee fans. Booo!

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NEWS: It’s Official: Texting While Driving Is Illegal in Alaska

Ban Signed Into Law Today

Today, thanks to legislation led by Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) and Representative Bill Thomas (R-Haines), Alaska’s strong anti-texting law is officially back on the books. Last year, a number of judges questioned whether the law at the time covered texting while driving, but the new law is clear—it is illegal to text while driving in Alaska.

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NEWS: Public Fishing Stream Access Bill Signed Into Law

Today, the governor signed into law Representative Les Gara’s legislation to ensure future public access to Alaska’s fishing streams, House Bill 144. The bill passed the House last year with a vote of 38 Yeas and passed the Senate by a vote of 20 to 0 on February 27.

“I want to thank the governor and the legislative body for their support in protecting Alaskans’ access to fishing streams for this and the next generation. In other states you have to pay access fees to fish a stream, or are simply blocked from this public resource. We don’t ever want that to happen in Alaska,” said Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), an avid fisherman and fishing writer.

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Note from Rep. Gara: Guv Signs Our Bill to Protect Alaskans’ Fishing Stream Access!

Well good news doesn’t usually come in the hospital. But that’s where I am, and where I got the good news that the Governor signed my bill seeking to maintain and enhance the cherished right of Alaskans to access our fishing streams, so public access remains for this and the next generation.

Predictions are that surgery went well, but it will be a little bit before we know for sure. What we do know is all the cancer is gone – thanks for all the well wishes. That’s the good news. It will take a little time to find out if there are any side effects.

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Note from Rep. Gara: End of Session, Pre “Unspecial Session” Update – The Good, Bad and Ugly.

Well, a flurry of bills passed the last 24 hours of the regular legislative session. I’ll give you the highlights and low lights, and a short preview of special session.

I’m able to write now that my blood pressure is back to normal. What caused the rise? The few legislators who pride themselves on blocking good legislation out of pure partisanship and animosity. Would anyone outside the Legislature (or Congress where the same stuff is done) really make the state a worse place just because you’re trying to block legislation by an “opponent” – or trying to make your opponent’s election chances worse? It’s a sick part of the legislative process that, I’m happy to say, most legislators don’t tolerate. But the few that do make life, and the state, worse for the rest of us.

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Democrats on Education Proposal: Fair Compromise, Schools Still Deserve Better

Lots of good for schools, but not enough to prevent cuts this year or in the future

JUNEAU – Today, House Democrats claimed a partial victory in the debate over school funding as the House passed a bill that provides far more resources to Alaska’s schools than what the governor proposed. The governor flat funded education and later proposed what was effectively a $10 million one-time increase, far short of keeping up with inflation.

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NEWS: Legislature Reinstates Texting While Driving Ban

Bi-partisan Bill Will Prevent Deadly Practice

Today, the Legislature passed bi-partisan legislation led by Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) and Representative Bill Thomas (R-Haines) to put Alaska’s strong anti-texting law back on the books. Last year, a number of judges questioned whether the existing law covers texting while driving.

“The Legislature intended to ban dangerous conduct like texting while driving. Rather than wait for appeals, we’re sending a clear message to the public, now, that texting, and typing on personal and computer devices can cause death and serious injury. In an average text you drive the length of a football field before paying attention to driving. We don’t want cars to be moving weapons,” said Rep. Gara.

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NEWS: Bill Protecting Public Access To Fishing Streams Sent to Governor

Today, the Speaker of the House sent Representative Les Gara’s legislation to ensure future public access to Alaska’s fishing streams, House Bill 144, to the governor for his signature. The bill passed the House last year with a vote of 38 Yeas and passed the Senate by a vote of 20 to 0 on February 27.

“I want to thank the Speaker for sending this bill to the governor and the legislative body for their support in protecting Alaskans’ access to fishing streams for this and the next generation. In other states you have to pay access fees to fish a stream, or are simply blocked from this public resource. We don’t ever want that to happen in Alaska,” said Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), an avid fisherman and fishing writer.

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