February 10, 2016
As your representative,
I am here to listen and to help. Please don't hesitate to contact me.
Mid-January to mid-April
State Capitol Rm 112
Juneau, AK 99801
May to December
733 W. 4th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
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Roads, Budgets, and Puppies
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Why did the chicken cross Spenard Road?
It didn’t. It would have died. Spenard Road has long been a frustration for many people in our district. Trying to turn on to 27th Avenue to get to Bear Tooth can be a downright nightmare at times. Plans for reconstruction have been in the works for decades. It began as a traffic and safety project in 1999 and has been a long and often arduous process ever since. That is finally about to change.
The city is looking for public comment this Thursday at West High School in the cafeteria between 6-8pm. The open house will give you a chance to identify issues that need to be addressed in the project design. Construction will begin next year and now is the chance to get involved.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Project Open House
Time: Stop by anytime between 6 and 8 pm
Location: West High School, Cafeteria
1700 Hillcrest Drive, Anchorage
There are two seasons in Alaska, Winter and Road Construction
Another big road project about to begin is what to do with Minnesota Drive. A study has begun to research the safety concerns people have about Minnesota between Westchester Lagoon and Seward Highway. If you have an idea about how to improve traffic congestion or pedestrian safety, please submit your comments here.
All budget, all the time.
There were two developments in the legislature Monday. The House and Senate minority caucuses (of which I am a member) sent a letter asking the majority to consider creating a “caucus of the whole” for the purpose of considering the budget. The idea basically is to suspend partisan organizational groups and have one big caucus. This would allow for more frank, and hopefully more fruitful discussions on the budget. The letter was sent to the Speaker of the House, and the Senate President. We haven’t heard back yet...
Bipartisanship in action
About twenty minutes later on the House floor, House Majority leadership announced that most of our committee meetings would be cancelled and until we pass a budget, the only bills that will be considered are bills that save money, and bills that raise revenue. There was a resolution that accompanied this announcement. I voted for it. Part of the resolution was a temporary suspension of some of the notification requirements for committee hearings and action. This would allow the legislature to move more quickly on the budget.
This is referred to as the 24 hour rule because it sets a minimum of 24 hours for public notice rather than the standard five day noticing. This usually doesn’t happen until the end of session. A number of my colleagues raised the issue that this could make it hard for our constituents to follow the process which is certainly a legitimate concern. I will do my best to keep you informed of what is going on. You can also follow which bills are moving by following BASIS and the legislature’s website. Feel free to call my office if you have any questions as well.
The Speaker asked that we use the time that we would be in our normal committee meetings to attend and intently study the budget in the House Finance Committee and the various budget subcommittees. Here is my new schedule below.
I probably won't get around to Scandal this week...
No matter how it happened, the bottom line is that for the time being we are all on the same page. If these new rules help us work together to get our job done then that is what we need to do. I am committed to working with whoever I need to, in order to pass a fiscal plan that closes the budget gap, and retains essential services of state government.
House Education met and considered a number of bills this week before the aforementioned hearing freeze. It has been a pleasure to host the various school groups that have traveled to Juneau this week. I met with kids, parents, teachers, superintendents and school board members from around the state. I was also able to meet with a group of students one on one and get their perspective on education issues.
We also heard of an alarming shakeup in the Department of Education. Commissioner Mike Hanley has been replaced. The political pressure on educators in Alaska is intense, and losing Commissioner Hanley’s passionate leadership at this critical time in our state’s history is a step in the wrong direction.
Especially this guy!
I also serve on the corrections budget subcommittee. It has been a great opportunity to get to know our corrections system better. There has been a lot of bad news from the department lately, as well as some reasons for hope. One exciting program that is happening in our prisons is a project where inmates raise and train puppies for adoption. It’s really cool, and helps prisoners do something productive and compassionate while they are incarcerated. See all the puppies here and consider adopting one!
Let us know if you have any questions, and as always I am here to serve you!