Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
February 2, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we continue to prioritize the budget, finance subcommittees have started to hear from various departments on the impacts of budget cuts over the last three years. Finance subcommittees will continue to meet until February 23, the final day for budget closeouts before the subcommittee recommendations are sent to the full House Finance Committee. Meetings are broadcast on Gavel Alaska. Many lawmakers are optimistic about finishing our work in 90 days.
As a member of the House Energy, House Transportation, and House Judiciary Committees, I sit on four finance subcommittees. Here is what the departments have shared related to those budgets:
The Department of Environmental Conservation’s mission is to “protect human health and the environment.” DEC programs include Food Safety & Sanitation, Drinking Water, Solid Waste Management, Air Quality, and Spill Prevention & Response. The DEC budget has been cut by 31.5% since 2014, reducing programs such as food safety and water quality testing. DEC has also stopped conducting routine sanitary inspections and responding to bed bug complaints at hotels. The FY19 DEC budget reduces administrative costs and building lease costs, and increases the funds to the Drinking Water program to make up for cuts in Federal funding. Click here for the overview.
Transportation & Public Facilities
The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is responsible for the research, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and protection of state transportation systems. Since 2014, the DOT budget has been cut approximately 22% - down to the level of the 2009 budget. Continued cuts to DOT have resulted in service reductions of the Marine Highway System, as well as reduced road maintenance services including snow removal and pot hole repair. The FY19 DOT budget requests the restoration of funds for the Marine Highway System, as well as funds for training and operations at the Fairbanks airport. Click here for the overview.
Due to prior budget cuts, The Alaska Court System remains closed on Friday afternoons. Given the Governor’s request for additional prosecutors in the Department of Law’s FY19 budget request, the number of cases going to trial has increased and is expected to continue to increase. Therefore, the court system has requested FY19 Operating Budget increases, including increased funding for jury expenses and funding for a dedicated Veteran’s Court coordinator. Click here to for the overview.
In FY18, the Department of Law reported previous cuts to the number of prosecutors showed negative results in criminal prosecutions, reporting that since 2013, prosecution of misdemeanors decreased by 33% and prosecution of felonies decreased by 3%.
In their recent overview, the Department of Law reported that since 2014, prosecution of misdemeanors has continued to decrease and is now down a total of 34%, while felony prosecutions increased over the last year when the legislature added back prosecutors. Working with Representative Jason Grenn, we added back two prosecutors last year and are supporting the Governor’s FY19 budget request to add back five more prosecutors this year.
Sexual and Other Workplace Harassment Subcommittee Update
Last week, I was appointed vice-chair of the Sexual and Other Workplace Harassment Subcommittee along with my colleague, Senator Anna MacKinnon. The subcommittee has adopted a working plan to ensure steady progress. We will meet weekly until we have a functional, well-reasoned policy for reporting harassment that holds perpetrators responsible while protecting the privacy of those who file a complaint.
Next week, the subcommittee will meet Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7:00am. We will work on processes for reporting harassment, making appeals, sanctioning perpetrators, and preventing retaliation against those who file complaints. We will consider issues such as how many designated staff members we need to facilitate the reporting process, who those staff members should be, what types of sanctions are appropriate, and how to apply sanctions to different circumstances.
Developing a comprehensive policy for reporting and processing allegations of sexual and other forms of workplace harassment is something I take very seriously. The legislature has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to harassment of any form, and we look forward to making it a welcoming place for everyone.
Apply for Your PFD Today
Apply now for your 2018 Permanent Fund Dividend.
Click. Pick. Give.
Pick.Click.Give. was created by the Alaska State Legislature in 2008 to allow Alaskans filing for their Permanent Fund Dividend to donate online to causes they care about statewide. While applying for their PFD online, Alaskans can choose to Pick.Click.Give. in increments of $25. Donations are tax deductible and donors will receive tax documentation from the State once their donations have been processed. Permanent Fund Dividend applications are available from January 1 to March 31, though Alaskans may choose to add or adjust their pledges online through August 31. For the list of 634 organizations you can donate to, click here.
Mark your calendar for these upcoming events:
Sand Lake Community Council
Spenard Community Council
Alaska Ski For Women
Join in the fun at the colorful Alaska Ski for Women – North America’s largest women-only cross-country ski event. This is a great event where women of all ages and abilities come out to ski approximately 2.4 miles (4K), many in colorful costumes, while raising funds for local non-profit organizations that help stop the cycle of domestic abuse against women and children. Since the race’s inception over $1,000,000 has been raised by ASFW participants.
When: Sunday, February 4th from 9:00 am – 12:15 pm (the first race start time is at 10:30 am)
Where: Kincaid Park, 9401 Raspberry Rd, Anchorage, AK 99502
For more information, visit the Facebook event page.
Anchorage Transportation Fair
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and partners, including the Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska Railroad, and Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility, invite you to participate in the Anchorage Transportation Fair. The event is a "super open house" providing a showcase of walking, biking, and driving projects and plans within the Municipality of Anchorage. The Anchorage Transportation Fair is free and open to the public. There is no cost for parking. Visit the website for more information: http://anchoragetranspofair.blogspot.com/
When: Thursday, February 8th from 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Where: Alaska Airlines Center Auxiliary gym, University of Alaska Anchorage, 3550 Providence Drive, Anchorage
Via Bus: Routes 10, 20, or 55
For more information, visit the Facebook event page.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.