Comprehensive Bill to Improve Lives of Alaska Foster Youth and Families Passes with Strong Bipartisan Support

Juneau – Yesterday, the Alaska Legislature passed comprehensive legislation sponsored by Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) to improve Alaska’s foster care system. House Bill 151 establishes new training and workload standards for caseworkers in the Office of Children’s Services. Lower caseload levels are widely recognized to lead to better health and outcomes for children and families. HB 151 has broad support from children’s advocacy groups and adopts major, comprehensive national best practice standards. The bill passed the Alaska State Senate Wednesday by a unanimous 18-0 vote. The bill was co-sponsored by 18 members of the Senate.

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May 10th: Outstanding items as we wrap up session

I’m expecting we will adjourn in the next few days and I’m pleased to report that many good bills have passed in recent days, including bills to increase access to mental health care, bills that will improve the lives of Alaskans with mental or physical disabilities, and a bill to reform our foster care system. My personal legislation to address rape kit reform and increase purchasing of Alaska Grown have also passed.

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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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