February 8, 2018
In this issue:
• Constituent Survey
• Legislation Updates
• Vote By Mail
• Community Events
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
One of the most important components of my work as your representative is hearing from West Anchorage constituents on the issues. This week, we launched our electronic Constituent Survey! Please take a moment to share your thoughts and suggestions by clicking the image below to access the survey. I appreciate your feedback!
Please Respond to Our Constituent Survey
On Wednesday, the House passed two important pieces of legislation.
- House Bill 287: Approp: Education/Student Transportation – HB 287 early funds Alaska’s K-12 public education system by addressing the public education budget in advance of the normal budget process. HB 287 appropriates $1.32 billion for K-12 public education, the same amount proposed by Governor Walker, and includes $1.2 billion from the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) and $67.8 million from the Statutory Budget Reserve (SBR). By a vote of 33-3, the House approved the $1.32 billion appropriation for public education in HB 287. The appropriation from the CBR, however, requires a separate vote by a supermajority—3/4 of the House. The CBR vote failed by a vote of 20-16. It is still possible to use the CBR to early fund public education if the Senate approves the bill and CBR appropriation, and three-quarters of House members vote for the provision at final passage in a concurrence vote. HB 287 now goes to the Senate for consideration.
- House Bill 236: Extend Senior Benefits Payment Program – HB 236 extends the vital Senior Benefits Program, which is currently scheduled to sunset in June without legislative action. The program was created in 2007 to help low to moderate income Alaskans ages 65 and older with cash assistance payments between $76 to $250 a month to help pay for food, heating, electricity, transportation, and prescription drugs. The program currently supports nearly 12,000 Alaskans. HB 236 passed by a vote of 35-1 and will now go to the Senate for consideration.
Since the beginning of the session, my office has introduced a number of bills. Here are updates on a few on the items we’ve been working on:
- House Bill 86: Student Loan Default/Occ. License Renewal – Last week, the Senate Labor & Commerce committee heard HB 86, which repeals Alaska statutes that allow the Commission on Post-Secondary Education to withhold renewal of an occupation license if a person is in default on an Alaska student loan. The punitive provision is not effective as a debt collection tool and is causing qualified professionals to leave the state.
- House Bill 194: USPHS & NOAA Officers as Veterans – This week, the House Military and Veterans Affairs committee is hearing HB 194, which updates the definition of “veteran” in the Alaska Statutes to match the definition in federal code. The legislation expands the definition to include Commissioned Officers of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and the Commissioned Corp of the US Public Health Service.
- House Bill 312: Crimes Against Medical Professionals – This week, the House Judiciary committee heard HB 312, which will help reduce violence against medical professionals by allowing for arrest without a warrant for a fourth degree assault in a health care facility. The bill also adds an aggravating factor at sentencing that allows a judge to increase the sentence for a person who commits a crime against a medical professional. The House Judiciary Committee passed HB 312 on Wednesday and the bill is now headed to the House floor.
Vote By Mail
On December 8, 2015, the Anchorage Assembly approved a resolution directing the Municipal Clerk's Office to explore implementing a Vote by Mail election process. Today, voting in the Municipality of Anchorage has moved to a Vote by Mail election system, supplemented by accessible vote centers, that will simplify and streamline the election process. Registered voters will receive a ballot packet at their current mailing address. They can return ballots by mailing them to the city, dropping them in a drop box, or leaving them at one of the voting locations. The goal of the Vote by Mail system is to increase voter turnout, maximize voter protection, and streamline election administration.
Mark your calendar for this upcoming event:
Winter Bike Fest
The 9th Annual Winter Bike Fest got rolling last week. During the month of February, Bike Anchorage sponsors several bike-related events to celebrate all things ‘bike’ and support creating a strong bicycle community in Anchorage. Winter Bike Fest events include group rides, storytelling, documentaries, and ‘bicycle art’ shows.
On this week’s calendar are the Winter Bike to Work Day, the Second Friday Bike Art Show, and the Winter City Ride
For a full schedule of Bike Fest events click here.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
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Contact the Governor
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Anchorage, AK 99501
T (907) 269-7450 F (907) 269-7461
EMAIL: Governor Bill Walker
STATE of ALASKA
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