Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
April 19, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Senate recently passed an operating budget with changes from the operating budget approved by the House. A conference committee is now appointed and working on resolving the differences between the two budget proposals.
While we did not adjourn in 90 days, we are working hard and I am optimistic that we will finish our work before the deadline in the Alaska Constitution.
Early Funding Education
Recently, the Alaska House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation addressing the need to invest in education. Adequately funding schools is a critical investment in Alaska’s future. I remain committed to passing legislation that strengthens our public school system because public education is our best investment in the future.
Funding of Public Education
On Wednesday, members of the House voted to concur with the Senate’s version of HB 287, legislation appropriating $1.32 billion for K-12 education in FY19. The measure includes no increases or decreases over the current fiscal year. With passage of HB 287, school districts can plan for a status quo budget and avoid teacher layoff notices.
The Senate’s version of the bill adds a provision to fund education in the same amount in FY20 and adds an additional $30 million in one-time grants to school districts that is contingent upon the passage of SB 26. SB 26 would implement an endowment structure for the Permanent Fund with a percent of market value approach (POMV) to use earnings from the Alaska Permanent Fund to pay dividends and help fund essential state services. Last year, the House and Senate passed different versions of SB 26 and a conference committee is considering the bill.
HB 287 passed the Alaska House of Representatives in February by a vote of 33-3. The Alaska State Senate passed the bill by a vote of 15-4 on Saturday, and the House concurred with the Senate changes by a vote of 31-9. The bill will now goes to Governor Bill Walker for his signature.
Increase Base Student Allocation
On Saturday, the House passed HB 339, legislation to increase the base student allocation (BSA) given to school districts in Alaska. Currently, the BSA is $5,930 per student. House Bill 339 increases the BSA by $100 to $6,030. This 1.6 percent increase amounts to $25 million for districts statewide, roughly equal to the amount lost since 2015.
HB 339 passed the House by a vote of 22-18. The bill will be sent to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.
Public Safety Action Plan Update
This weekend, the Alaska Legislature passed SB 148: Background Checks for Police & Training, a key piece of legislation in the Governor’s Public Safety Action Plan.
In 1972, when the legislature created the Alaska Police Standards Council (APSC), they granted the council the power to establish regulations defining the minimum standards for hiring and training of police officers. From that time forward, APSC has, by regulation, required a fingerprint-based background check for all officers. Due to recent changes in federal regulation to protect the public from unauthorized release of sensitive, private information, the FBI no longer regards the APSC as a “law enforcement agency.” The APSC cannot currently take fingerprints and conduct criminal history background checks for prospective employees. As a result, small rural agencies lack the means to comply with this important regulation.
SB 148 addresses this issue by adopting statutes specifically authorizing the APSC to assist rural communities in recruiting law enforcement officers and independent students seeking enrollment in police training academies. SB 148 passed the House by a vote of 38-2. Last month, SB 148 passed the Alaska Senate by a vote of 18-0. The bill will now be sent to the Governor for his signature.
I supported and led discussion of SB 148 on the floor. I thank the Governor, the Department of Public Safety, and the Alaska Police Standards Council for bringing this legislation forward.
HB 75 Update: Gun Violence Protective Orders
I recently met with the press to report on the status of HB 75 and my efforts to try to find a compromise that could pass the legislature. Click here to listen to a portion of my interview.
Thank You Ceri!
This week, we say goodbye and good luck to Ceri Godinez. Ceri joined the team in January after graduating from Yale University in May 2017. She has been an exceptional addition to our office. During this legislative session, Ceri was responsible for several pieces of legislation and assisted our office in constituent outreach and communications. Ceri leaves us to move to Anchorage and we hope to see her this summer!
Mark your calendar for these upcoming events:
KidsDay is a city-wide day of fun to celebrate our youth and families in Alaska and a day to provide kids of all ages a day of laughter and fun! The 35th Anchorage KidsDay takes place on Saturday at various locations around town.
More than 80 youth-serving exhibitors will gather at the Dena'ina Center to provide program information & fun activities for all to enjoy! There will be face-painting, prize wheels, free books, live stage performances, and a street fair with bouncy houses. The Anchorage Museum, the Alaska Zoo, and the Alaska Aviation Museum are all partnering KidsDay locations and will have free all day admissions for kids 17 years and younger. Public transportation between locations is also free for kids.
For more information about the 2018 event, visit the KidsDay website.
When: Saturday April 21st from 10:00AM – 4:00PM
Sand Lake Earth Day Family Clean Up
Join the Sand Lake Community Council in sprucing up the neighborhood. Join neighbors on Earth Day and help clean up the Four Corners area near Tastee Freeze. Stop in at Tastee Freeze to pick up trash bags and gloves, and treat yourself to an ice cream for your efforts. Clean up will begin at 10a.m. on Saturday, April 21. Invite your friends and neighbors—the more, the merrier.
For more information about cleanup details, visit the Facebook event page.
When: Saturday April 21st from 10:00AM – 2:00PM
40th Annual Alaska Heart Run
Join the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association on Saturday, April 21, 2018 as they celebrate #40yearsrunning the Annual Alaska Heart Run. The Alaska Heart Run is proudly presented by our Healthy For Good local sponsor, the Alaska Heart & Vascular Institute. The event is family friendly and features a challenge for everyone. Sign up for a 5K timed or untimed length or a 3K walk! Check-in opens at 7:30 a.m. and the timed runners will take off at 9:30 a.m., with the untimed racers and walkers departing at 10:00 a.m. Get there early to find parking.
For more information about registration and bib pick-up, please visit AlaskaHeartRun.org.
When: Saturday, April 21st from 7:30AM – 11:00AM
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.